|Oleksandra Kurasova was the undisputed leader of Rivas' important win against Bourges|
A 26 point haul from Oleksandra Kurasova propelled Rivas Ecopolis to a nail-biting and precious 65-62 success against EuroLeague Women Group A rivals Bourges Basket.
The Ukrainian forward had a big hand in the win and especially in the clutch, as Rivas extracted sweet revenge for their loss in France earlier in the campaign.
With both clubs very familiar with each other after a riveting play-off series last season, they served up another absorbing encounter which ebbed and flowed beautifully.
After a tight opening quarter which Rivas just edged 19-18,they grabbed the initiative during the second period and opened up a double-digit lead at 37-27.
However, led by Styliani Kaltsidou and Cathy Joens, Bourges fought back and outscored Rivas 18-10 after the break to set up a thrilling and intense last ten minutes.
They even took the lead via a score by Celine Dumerc with just over two minutes to go, which put them 57-56 ahead.
But, Kurasova drained a big three-pointer to get Rivas rolling again and they held their nerve from the free-throw line to seal the win as a late triple from Joens halved the deficit for the visitors, but it was too late to save the game as time ran out.
Aneika Henry had a double-double for Rivas with 11 points and 12 rebounds, whilst Joens poured in 21 points for Bourges as they slipped to a third loss - the same number as Rivas who gave their play-off prospects a real boost.
Miguel Méndez, Rivas Ecópolis Coach:
"It's an important win for us because we are closer to earn a good berth in the play-offs. Our players showed a good mentality in this game, they knew how to be patient. And I'm also happy because we won without playing brilliantly, I think it's important to show that we can also win when we don't excel in our play. Given the lack of brilliance, our players had a lot of heart to get the win against a great team."
Oleksandra Kurasova, Rivas Ecópolis:
"I'm proud of my team-mates and of my team, we all had a big effort in this game, I want to congratulate them all because they all helped. I think that we played good on the fast-break, we had to step up our physical side. And luckily, we hit some important shots inn the last minutes. This win is going to be important for our confidence as a team."
Valerie Garnier, Bourges Basket Coach:
"We lost against a team with very good players, tonight Kurasova made the big difference. She drilled some important three-pointers and did some good work on the inside. We were out-rebounded in the first half, and improved in the second, but it's difficult to win when you have so many turnovers."
Celine Dumerc, Bourges Basket:
"Turnovers were our big problem, because against a team like Rivas, they mean that they will secure two points on the fast-break; it was a gift for them. But we were able to come back, the game was close in the end. It's never easy playing here, but we never gave up, though missing in some situations in the end took the victory away from us."