Solopova Shines As VICI Aistes Win Another Thriller


VICI Aistes edge Tarbes GB 72-71 on Wednesday evening in a thrilling contest to stay in the EuroLeague Women play-off hunt.

Canada international Courtnay Pilypaitis hit a go-ahead three-pointer with 24 seconds left and the Kaunas club held on for one-point victory.

The Lithuanian club improved to 4-6 and dropped Tarbes to 3-7.

If Galatasaray beat ZVVZ USK Prague on Wednesday night, the Turkish club will also be 4-6 and will advance to the next round of the competition ahead of VICI Aistes since they have a better goal differential in their two games with the Kaunas outfit.

A Prague triumph would Gala to 3-7 and put VICI Aistes into the next stage.

Even if VICI Aistes do not progress, they will be able to look back on an incredible first season in Kaunas.

The outfit was formerly known as TEO and was based in Vilnius before changing addresses last summer.

VICI Aistes began the season with a heart-stopping, 81-79 triumph over Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje but then lost five consecutive games and appeared to be headed for early elimination.

Coach Mantas Sernius kept his young team fully focused, though, and they ended up beating Halcon Avenida, Galatasaray and now Tarbes for three triumphs in their last four games.

While Pilypaitis, who played at the FIBA World Championship for Women last year, hit the game-winning shot, it was Marina Solopova that carried VICI offensively on Wednesday with a season-high 28 points.

A member of her country's team at the U20 European Championship for Women in 2010, Solopova was eight of 15 from the floor, including four of eight from behind the arc.

Tarbes went into the contest on the back of three straight defeats and had a great shot at winning thanks to the 20 points scored by Erin Thorn, 14 from Ivanka Matic and 10 from Jana Dubljevic.

Thorn was poised to be the star of the game after hitting a three-ball to give Tarbes a 69-67 advantage with 2:51 left.

Dubljevic then split a pair of free-throws to make it a three-point game.

VICI Aistes then set the stage for an exciting finish.

Solopova caught a pass by Rima Valentiene and buried a jumper for her last two points of the contest.

Valentiene then put Ana Cata-Chitiga on the free-throw line and she sank the first attempt but missed the second.

Solopova grabbed the rebound and after Valentiene missed a three, Pilypaitis drilled her shot from the arc for the famous win.

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