|UMMC Ekaterinburg guard Sue Bird had a career-high 23 points|
UMMC Ekaterinburg grinded out a 61-55 victory over Good Angels Kosice on Tuesday in the opening Round 2 game of the EuroLeague Women.
Sue Bird, a four-time champion in her days with Russian rivals Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje, led UMMC with a career-high 23 points.
The way the USA international star performed with Tuesday's game hanging in the balance bodes well for Ekaterinburg.
She had scored a total of 17 points in her four previous EuroLeague Women appearances for UMMC.
Algirdas Paulauskas' team trailed 41-40 until Bird hit a jump shot with just seconds to go in the third quarter.
Then early in the fourth quarter, after a Tatiana Vidmer three-point play had put the hosts on top 45-41, Bird hit Kosice with a dagger they would not recover from.
The veteran caught a pass from behind the arc and drilled a three-pointer for a 48-41 lead.
Candace Parker followed with a jumper to stretch the lead to nine.
Miljana Bojovic, who had 10 points, 10 assists and four rebounds for Kosice, then reeled off five consecutive points to give the visitors hope.
She connected from behind the arc and then tipped in a teammate's miss to close the gap to 50-46.
But Bird made sure victory was going to be UMMC's with a basket and then Olga Arteshina extended the lead back to 54-46 with a jumper.
Bird, the only UMMC player to reach double digits in points, finished five of 10 from long range and eight of 16 overall.
UMMC hit eight of their 19 shots from behind the arc.
Kosice got 17 points from Danielle McCray and 16 from Natalia Vieru.
Bojovic had nine of Kosice's 22 turnovers.
Game 2 is on Friday in Slovakia.
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Good Angels Kosice Head Coach Stefan Svitek
"I think we had a very good and tough game especially against a team full of stars. We were very close to make a surprise in the first EuroLeague Women play-off game. We will go back to Kosice and do our best to win the next one. We played a great defense and did it exactly the way we had planned. We could eliminate almost all their forwards, but not Sue Bird. This time she was the one who brought the win on the side of Ekaterinburg."
UMMC Ekaterinburg Head Coach Algirdas Paulauskas
"Good Angels turned to be a strong sharp-toothed team. Today our frontline was not playing the way it used to and collected only 11 points, obviously our offense can do better. Tomorrow we will work on our frontline game and get ready for the next meeting."
Good Angels Kosice player Natalia Vieru
"We were good on defense, especially under the basket and forced the UMMC forwards to make a lot of mistakes. As a result, they scored not as much as they're used to. Of course we also made mistakes and with a team like UMMC, full of high-profile players it is unacceptable. Still there were a few moments when we were just out of luck."
UMMC Ekaterinburg player Olga Arteshina
"We didn't know much about our opponent until recently but we expected it to be a hard game, because the Slovak team has already made it to the EuroLeague play-offs. It turned to be a tough game taking into account that UMMC has a lot of real stars. There were a few moments when we stopped, but every time someone from our players pushed the whole team forward. Sue Bird was the one to remedy the whole game. I hope we will be able to learn the Slovak lessons and avoid making mistakes next time."