|Olga Arteshina almost registered a double double, finishing the game with 16 points and nine rebounds|
UMMC Ekaterinburg drew first blood in their EuroLeague Women quarter-final tie with Cras Basket Taranto with a 68-51 victory in Game One.
Sandrine Gruda scored 19 points and Olga Arteshina added 16 and nine rebounds as UMMC pulled away in the fourth quarter to put any hopes of a Taranto fightback to bed.
UMMC led almost throughout, but the visitors were still in touch, 50-43 down, at the start of the fourth quarter.
But an 11-2 run, capped by Celine Dumerc's three-pointer early in the period, put the Russians in a dominant position and they were not troubled the rest of the way.
Cappie Pondexter put an exclamation mark on the win, scoring the final points on a three-pointer.
The American finished with 13 points, while Candace Parker had 11 and nine rebounds.
Elodie Godin led Taranto with 16 points while Megan Mahoney added 13, but they struggled against the UMMC defence and shot only 17 of 45 (37.7%) as a team in the paint.
UMMC also outrebounded the visitors 39-22.
Cras Basket Taranto Head Coach Roberto Ricchini:
"This was a game, where we played three quarters out of four. The tall players of UMMC played better under the boards, and on Friday we need to improve our work under the boards. Basically, we need to move forward, to focus on our play, to grab more rebounds."
Cras Basket Taranto player Michelle Greco:
"We are disappointed with our defeat, it was difficult to play against UMMC, and difficult to play after the flight; we tried to fight for the rebounds, but lost. At home we'll pay attention both to offense and defense, and it will be a different story."
UMMC Ekaterinburg Head Coach Gundars Vetra:
"In the play-offs you start each game from 0-0. We have no time to celebrate the win, we must prepare for the second game. After Rivas we increased the intensity of our practices, and time shows, that our ten-day plan was correct. Now Deanna Nolan has joined the team after her muscle injury, and though Zuzana Zirkova cannot yet play because of her back problem, I hope our roster problems are solved. We let our opponent make only 51 points, the result of our work in defense is not bad, I suppose."