Ros Casares Valencia pulled out all the stops this evening and with a last quarter push took a surprise second 1/8 Final victory and knocked title-holders US Valenciennes Olympic out of this year's EuroLeague Women championship.
In Valenciennes' first EuroLeague Play-Off home loss since 1997, Ros Casares came back from a 13 point deficit early in the second half to put an end to the current champions' repeat title hopes. An inspired dual effort from Amaya Valdemoro and Chamique Holdsclaw was the main factor in the Spanish side's victory.
|Amaya Valdemoro had 20 pts, 7 rbds and 6 ass against USVO|
Both teams came out ready to play and the game was tight from the start, although in the first minutes both teams made several mistakes resulting in turnovers. Neither side could claim control and the lead changed hands again and again before the end of the period with Spanish national team colleagues Valdemoro and Isabel Sanchez going head-to-head at the forward spot. Ros held a narrow lead after 10 minutes, 19-21, thanks to a Noemi Jordana jumpshot in the dying seconds.
The second quarter looked set to continue in the same vein as the score remained very close in the opening minutes. Allison Feaster opened the scoring for USVO with a 3-pointer after 25 seconds and it took another minute for the Spaniards to reply.
The guests were soon set struggle as By the 13th minute the hosts had found their rythmn and set about building up a decent lead. Ros Casares couldn't find the basket and were held from scoring for 4 1/2 minutes while Audrey Sauret, backed up by Sandra le Dréan and Slobodanka Tuvic took control and stretched the gap to 10 points.
Former Ros center Lucienne Berthieu took no pity on her past teammates as she coolly sank all free-throws and put away another jumper shortly before the half-time whistle to take the lead to 42-31 at the break.
Chantelle Anderson's opening 2 points for Valenciennes right after half-time could have spelt the end for the Spanish club, however the Ros players refused to let their heads go down and slowly pegged their way back into the game. Amaya Valdemoro and Champique Holdsclaw simply took over for Ros Casares in the second half.
For a while, Valenciennes were able to reply, holding their rivals at bay, with Audrey Sauret answering twice from behind the 3-point line. After 30 minutes the home side were still ahead by 8 points and still appeared confident of sending the series to a third and deciding game.
After the last break, however, the Ros effort was simply unstoppable as Valdemoro led her team-mates in a concerted charge. Valenciennes lost concentration and with the ball on many occasions, which the Ros players exploited. With 6 minutes left the Spaniards had tied the game and Valenciennes struggled to regain any control.
Even 2 time-outs in the last 2 minutes from Laurent Buffard couldn't provide any inspiration for the French champions and Ros Casares held on for a 3-point victory. Both 3-pointer attempts from Allison Feaster and Audrey Sauret in the last seconds fell short and Ros Casares took the win to go through to the Quarter-Finals.