|29 February 2012|
Rivas Ecopolis completed the field at the Final Eight of the EuroLeague Women with a gritty 64-56 triumph over Bourges.
Wednesday night's win in Spain gave hosts Rivas a 2-1 series victory against the giants of France, who scored just one point over the last 4:16 of the contest and eight in the third quarter.
Rivas have joined Ros Casares, Wisla Can-Pack Krakow, Fenerbahce, Sparta&K Moscow Region, Beretta-Famila Schio, UMMC Ekaterinburg and hosts Galatasaray in the last phase of the competition, which will be played from the 28th of March to the 1st of April in Istanbul.
The game, as expected, was tight from start to finish but Rivas prevailed after solid performances from Anna Cruz, Asjha Jones, Essence Carson, Elisa Aguilar and Sandra Pirsic.
Cruz finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists while Jones scored 13 points, corralled eight boards and came up with a team-high three steals.
Essence Carson led Rivas in scoring with 20 points and was a perfect nine of nine at the free-throw line.
Rivas were 18 of 21 at the line as a team.
Aguilar picked her spots as well to help get Rivas to the showpiece event in Istanbul.
When her jump shot on a fast break fell through the hoop with 4:10 remaining, the Spaniards led 56-55 and they were in front to stay.
Slovenian Pirsic then swatted two shots that put the hosts on the way to victory.
She blocked Celine Dumerc's lay-up attempt and after Rivas added to their advantage with a Carson three-ball, Pirsic rejected Stella Kaltsidou.
Cruz followed that defensive play by scoring at the other end for a 61-55 Rivas lead with 2:44 to go.
Bourges coach Valérie Garnier called a timeout and tried to get the home side out of their rhythm and inject some self-belief into the French team.
But Kaltsidou turned the ball over when play resumed and on their next possession, Catherine Joens missed a jumper.
The French outfit, after Cruz split a pair of free-throws for a 62-56 lead, handed the ball right back when Joens turned it over.
Carson added two more free-throws for the 64-56 win.
Joens did everything she could for Bourges, making four of six shots from long range.
She scored 18 points and Endene Miyem added 12, but Garnier's team really had no one else that consistently put the ball in the basket as their EuroLeague Women campaign came to an end.