|08 November 2007|
Belgian powerhouse Dexia Namur came up with a big win to start their EuroLeague Women campaign, beating two-time champions USVO Valenciennes 75-57 at home in Group C action.
Catherine Kraayeveld scored 13 of her 15 points in the second half and Israeli national team center Jennifer Fleischer added 12 points and 19 rebounds as Dexia used a 12-0 third quarter run to take control of the game.
Jurgen van Meerbeeck arrived at the six-time reigning Belgian league and cup double winners with high hopes despite the team only reaching the EuroLeague Women eighthfinals the past two seasons.
Helping van Meerbeeck feel good about his team's start were 15 points by 1999 EuroBasket Women champion Krystyna Szymanska-Lara of Poland and Elzbieta Miedzik as well as 12 points from Kim Smith.
Van Meerbeeck's counterpart, Herve Coudray, meanwhile came into the USVO spot under the tremendous pressure of having to replace Laurent Buffard, who led the club to the 2002 and 2004 titles as well as the finals in 2001 and 2003 and the 2006 semis.
|Elzbieta Miedzik's baskets in key moments of the game proved decisive for Dexia|
And Coudray's team didn't have an answer for the tough Belgian defense, shooting just 35% (22-of-63) from the field and 55% (10-of-18) from the foul stripe while being out-rebounded 42-30.
One of the few real weapons for the French side was former Dexia player Nicole Ohlde, who had 17 points and 13 rebounds. France international Krissy Bade did add 14 points and Laurie Koehn had 11, but it was not nearly enough.
Neither side was able to open much of a gap early, Belgian national team playmaker Marjorie Capréaux's lay-up giving the Belgians an 18-14 lead late in the first quarter, which ended 18-16.
Miedzik drained two three-pointers as van Meerbeeck's team scored the first eight points of the second period for a 26-16 advantage. The French pulled within four points on four occasions, the last one coming at 35-31 - the half-time score.
After Fleischer started the second half with a three-point play, USVO evened the game at 38-38 with a 7-0 run, completed by Koehn's long range basket.
However, Kraayeveld and Szymanska-Lara both knocked down two baskets - including a three-pointer for each - as Namur charged ahead with a 12-0 run for a 50-38 gap. Coudray's team was just not able to hit any shots, going the four minutes with just one turnover.
And the French trailed 50-42 going into the fourth.
Bade cut the margin to 50-44, but Kraayeveld hit two more three-pointers and another basket and Dexia's advantage was back at 14 points - 58-44 with less than six minutes left.
USVO would not get closer than 13 the rest of the way.