Battling Vilnius Fall In Valencia

Ros Casares claimed a 75-60 home triumph against a winless TEO Vilnius side that often looked helpless on offense but never gave up.

In Amaya Valdemoro's second EuroLeague Women game since recovering from a long injury lay-off, Valencia used an impressive press defense and their usual quick transition game to hold down their resilient Baltic opponents.

After Belinda Snell hit a three-pointer two minutes into the game to give Ros Casares a 5-0 lead, it looked like another early blowout for Vilnius.

But Mantas Sernius' players found some offensive rhythm and got back into the game when Renee Montgomery buried two free-throws and scored on a lay-up after a steal by Milda Sauliute to take an 8-7 lead with four minutes to play in the first quarter.

Vilnius' coach Sernius has been stressing the importance of defense and it looked like his players were listening because in the first quarter, Ros Casares scored just 14 points.

They seemed surprised by the intensity and changing defense of TEO.

TEO's Quanitra Hollingsworth tied the contest at 16-16 two minutes into the second quarter but two free-throws by Slovakia international Regina Palusna and the second three-pointer of the night for Valdemoro forced Sernius to call a time-out.

When play resumed, Valencia made it a 12-0 run, sparked by their aggressive zone press which led to a couple of steals and easy points.

Aurime Rinkeviciute avoided an even bigger deficit by drilling a three-pointer, and another basket, before Montgomery made a tough lay-up late in the second quarter to keep Vilnius within distance at 35-26.

An unnecessary turnover in the backcourt by Montgomery, though, gave Elisa Aguilar the opportunity to close the half with a three-pointer at the buzzer to make it 38-26.

Isma Canto's team shot better from outside than inside in the first half, making six of 15 from long range and just seven of 18 down low.

Milka Bjelica opened the second half with a jumper from the free-throw line and another one from the baseline to give Vilnius some hope at 38-30.

Ros Casares's defense began to take its toll, however.

It forced TEO into turnover after turnover by mainly denying Montgomery the ball on the inbounds plays and then exploiting the inexperience of her team-mates by double teaming them.

On one steal by the Valencia half-court trap, De Lisha Milton Jones ran the court and finished with a spectacular alley-oop lay-up after a no-look volleyball pass by Laia Palau and made it 52-37 with 13 min. left to play.

Both teams exchanged a couple of points with the Spanish powerhouse slowly extending their lead due to the numerous TEO turnovers.

When Erika split a pair of free throws with 3:30 to go to make it 65-45, the lead hit 20 points for the first time.

Ros Casares cruised the rest of the way.

The Baltic outfit cut the deficit to 73-60 with 21 seconds to go before Palusna scored the final points of the game.

Valdemoro led her team with 15 points in only 17 minutes and also added two assists and four rebounds.

Montgomery also had 15 but coach Sernius was not always happy with the burgeoning USA international's decision making and shot selection.


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