Bourges Basket battled gamely in a bid to pip Gambrinus Sika Brno to first place in Group B of the EuroLeague Women and though the French won on the night, the Czech giants did enough to finish top of the standings.
Bourges won 73-67 before their fervent fans, but Gambrinus' 72-58 success back in November has given them a superior points difference and leaves them going into the eighth-finals as the best team in the group.
Bourges' Spanish international Laia Palau had 19 points to lead all scorers.
Palau seems to save her best performances for Czech opponents. Remember her buzzer-beating three-pointer against the Czech Republic at the Olympics in 2004 which sent that game to overtime?
Brno's Jana Vesela, who played on that Czech Olympic team, finished with 17 in defeat on Wednesday.
|Jana Vesela (Gambrinus Brno)|
Bourges trailed 11-7 but closed out the first quarter on a 16-4 run for a 23-15 advantage.
Anete Jekabsone, who was recently voted the FIBA Europe Young Women's Player of the Year, buried a three-pointer to extend the advantage to 31-15 early in the second quarter.
When the Latvian international hit yet another three soon after, Bourges led 36-17 and were starting to look as if they would take over first in the standings.
Gambrinus battled back and trailed 42-28 at half-time, and they chipped away at the deficit in the third quarter with Eva Viteckova's basket leaving Gambrinus trailing 54-47.
The Czech team was strong in the fourth and narrowed the deficit to 68-67 with 1:30 to play on a basket from Jana Vesela.
Bourges would end up scoring their next five points from the free throw line and clinched a six-point win, but Gambrinus did enough to protect their lead in the standings.