Sparta&K Make It Five Final Fours In A Row


Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje completed a 2-0 sweep of Fenerbahce on Friday to earn a trip to the EuroLeague Women Final Four for the fifth year in a row.

After surprising Fener on Tuesday in Istanbul with an 86-78 come-from-behind triumph, the Russians returned home and routed the Turkish outfit, 74-56.

Pokey Chatman's team led from start to finish and got 22 points from Epiphanny Prince.

Fenerbahce trailed early on but were threatening to pull level after Hana Horakova, the FIBA Europe Women's Player of the Year, hit one of two free-throws to cut the Sparta&K lead to 20-17.

Sparta&K then hit them with two three-point daggers they never recovered from.

Jelena Milovanovic drilled the first and Sue Bird the second to make it 26-17.

Five straight points from Ivana Matovic reduced the deficit to 32-27 with 24 seconds to go in the second quarter but Prince buried a jumper right before half-time to take the lead back to seven.

She then started the second half with a three-pointer to stretch the advantage to 10.

The Sparta&K lead ballooned to 21 later in the quarter.

Fenerbahce got no closer than 16 points in the fourth quarter.

Fener coach Laszlo Ratgeber, the coach of Sparta&K when they captured the title in 2009, had called his former team the favorites before the season.

He knew that any team with Bird and Lauren Jackson back would be formidable, but when the Turkish club went unbeaten in the Qualifying Round and then swept Galatasaray in the Eighth-Finals, they had the look of champions.

Fener had done this despite the loss of their two best players, Diana Taurasi and Penny Taylor.

Their fourth-quarter collapse in Game 1 against Sparta&K, and a tough day at the office in Vidnoje, has brought their season in Europe to an early end.

Bird had 13 points, Milovanovic 10 and both Ilona Korstin and McWilliams eight.

McWilliams, who began the season with Ros Casares but departed following the arrival of Nicky Anosike to Valencia, had a game-high 10 rebounds.

The 40-year-old veteran is starting to look like the most important acquisition of the season in the league.

As for Angel McCoughtry, who was transferred from MKB Euroleasing Sopron to Fener, the American had eight points in 19 minutes.



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