Defending Champs Left With Work To Do

27 February 2014

Turning Point: Down 63-50, it looked like Dynamo Moscow might have plenty of work to do in the second-leg, but a 9-1 run in the middle of the final quarter restored more of a balance for the Russians, even if they still ultimately fell to a loss.

Stats Don't Lie: Five missed free-throws from 14 attempts could come back to haunt Villeneuve, although it was their 45.5% from downtown which made the difference in winning this first meeting.

Game Heroes: Lenae Williams and Emma Meesseman both shone brightly for Villeneuve. The former racked up a game-high 29 points, including five triples and also added six assists, whilst Meesseman produced an efficient 15 points and eight rebounds.

10. Lenae Williams (Villeneuve DAscq)
Lenae Williams' 29 points provided the backbone for Villeneuve DAscq's first leg win

Villeneuve d'Ascq will carry a six-point lead to Russia after they recorded an 89-83 success against holders Dynamo Moscow in the first-leg of the EuroCup Women semi-finals.

In a roller-coaster match-up, Villeneuve led by as many as 13 points at one stage, but then watched their advantage all but evaporate down the stretch, prior to five points in the last 20 seconds from Lenae Williams to restore a handy cushion.

In a frenetic opening to the contest, both teams found their offensive rhythm instantly and indulged in a high-octane first quarter, which the hosts shaded 27-25.

Defence gradually became more prominent, but there was little daylight to speak of, with Villeneuve briefly moving 30-25 ahead after a basket by Lorraine Lokoka.

But, Dynamo responded as a lay-up from Irina Sokolovskaya nudged them in front at 39-37, only for Emma Meesseman and Frida Eldebrink to finish the half with a flourish for the French side.

Still holding a narrow lead at 52-50 approaching the midway point of the third quarter, Villeneuve then clicked into top gear and fired 11 unanswered points to establish a double-figure advantage and get Dynamo Moscow on the ropes.

But, rather than falling to the canvas, Dynamo showed their champion heart by recovering with a strong start to the final period, to narrow to 78-76 via a big triple from Ana Dabovic.

Both teams traded until the dying moments when a couple of decisive baskets from Williams gave Villeneuve something more substantial to defend when they head to the Russian capital next week.

Ana Dabovic and Tina Charles were outstanding for the champions, combining for 41 points, with Dabovic handing out six assists and Charles claiming eight boards.


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