Spartak Moscow ended the title defense of Gambrinus Sika Brno on Wednesday in Russia and advanced to the EuroLeague Women Final Four.
Beaten like a drum on their home floor in the opening game of the quarter-final tie, 73-58, Spartak won 81-63 in Brno and then finished off Gambrinus with a 72-59 triumph in Moscow.
Tina Thompson and Diana Taurasi, the USA internationals who led Spartak to victory in Game Two, combined to score 42 points in the win which has left two teams from Russia (CSKA Volgaburmash are the other) in the semi-finals.
The world class Taurasi caught fire from three-point range as she did in the last contest, burying five of her seven attempts (71%) en route to a
|Diana Taurasi |
game-high 22 points while Thompson had 14 rebounds to go with her 20 points.
Polish international Agnieszka Bibrzycka also made two of her three pointers (66.6%) and finished with 10 points.
Hana Machova scored 18 points and Zuzana Zirkova scored 15 for Gambrinus, but the Czech giants suffered without Czech international Jana Vesela who is suffering from tonsillitis.
The clash saw four lead changes in the first quarter, and the last time Jan Bobrovsky's team were in front was at 25-24 early in the second period.
Taurasi's fourth three-ball put Spartak back into the lead at 27-25, and
they stayed in front the rest of the way.
The spurt that put Spartak in command came after Gambrinus star Deanna Nolan's jump shot had closed the gap to 31-30 with 5:03 remaining.
Spartak's Ivanka Matic made a lay-up, Thompson sank two free throws and Bibrzycka drilled her first three to stretch the lead to 38-30 with 2:17 to go in the half.
Lay-ups by Taurasi and Thompson extended the advantage to 42-30 before Gambrinus reduced the arrears to trail 44-35 at half-time.
In the third quarter, Machova's three-ball trimmed the deficit to six, and after Thompson made a lay-up for Spartak, Petra Kulichová scored to leave the hosts with a 46-40 lead.
Spartak then delivered the knockout punch.
Thompson's lay-up was followed by Bibrzycka`s jumper and Tamika Whitmore connected from the arc for a 53-40 lead.
Machova replied with a three of her own, but Sue Bird`s lay-up and
Bibrzycka's second three gave Sparta a 58-43 stranglehold on the game.
Another Taurasi three-pointer with nine minutes to go in the game gave Spartak their biggest lead at 63-43 and took the American`s points haul to 20.
The Russians then cruised home.