|Evgenia Belyakova set the tone for Sparta&K MR Vidnoje, scoring 20 points|
Sparta&K MR Vidnoje prevailed 67-66 over ZVVZ USK Prague in a thrilling EuroLeague Women Group B clash on Wednesday night, handing the Czech side their first defeat at home this season.
Russian international Evgenia Belyakova came up with a game-high 20 points on 3-of-4 three-point shooting and added seven rebounds and three assists to lead Sparta&K to victory.
Sonja Petrovic finished with 15 points and seven rebounds while Tijana Ajdukovic chipped in with 11 points for the winners.
For Prague, Katerina Elhotova and Jelena Dubljevic had 16 points apiece in losing efforts.
Belyakova drilled two three-pointers early on and Petrovic hit a jumper with 2:04 remaining in the first quarter for Sparta&K to jump into a 19-8 lead.
Elhotova however poured in seven points in quick succession at the start of the second period and Prague tied the scores at 25 with 6:45 left to the half-time buzzer.
The two teams exchanged blows from then on until Belyakova made back-to-back lay-ups in the final 30 seconds of the first half to restore Sparta&K in the driver's seat, 36-33.
Elhotova sunk a jump shot to score her 16th point in the game and spark an 8-0 Prague run that propelled the hosts to a 51-46 lead with 1:49 remaining in the third, their biggest advantage up until that point.
However, Sparta&K simply refused to go away as Natalia Vieru scored six of her eight points on the night in successive possessions and the Russian side reclaimed the lead with an 8-0 run of their own, 56-51, with 6:24 left to play.
Eva Viteckova, who had not scored all night, hit two three-pointers in quick succession and Dubljevic added two points for Prague to jump ahead 63-58 at a crucial point, as there was only 2:32 remaining on the clock.
The hosts however would go without a score for the next two-and-a-half minutes.
Nika Baric poured in four quick-fire points and on Prague's next possession Belyakova disposed Laia Palau, was fouled and hit both free throws to make it 64-63 for Sparta&K with 1:37 left to play.
Belyakova, who had in the meantime benefited from one more Prague wasted possession to score with a lay-up, split two free throws and gave her team a 67-63 cushion four seconds from the end, before Palau hit a triple at the final buzzer to reduce the gap to just one point.
ZVVZ USK Prague Head Coach Natalia Hejkova
"The last 10 days were really difficult for us, especially for our short players. I am sad we lost a home game and that we lost it by the smallest difference possible."
Sparta&K MR Vidnoje Head Coach Alexander Vasin
"We are so happy to win here. We knew it wouldn´t be easy but we did it. I am very satisfied with my young players, fighting during the whole game. Congratulations to them."
Sparta&K MR Vidnoje Player Sonja Petrovic
"It is a great victory for us, of course. We came here to give everything and to win but we knew Prague was currently the best team in our group, they are playing great. So for us it is a great victory and a very good experience for our young team."
ZVVZ USK Prague Player Katerina Elhotova
"We let them begin with very easy shots and then we were still trying to catch their score. They played with ease, we didn´t. We had to work very hard for every single shot."