Classy Avenida Overcome Beretta-Famila

20 January 2010

Halcon Avenida of Salamanca beat Beretta-Famila Schio 80-62 in the last Qualifying Round game on Wednesday night to grab the fifth seed in the rankings which determines the match-ups for the next rounds.

The stunning trio of Alba Torrens, Sancho Lyttle and LeCoe Willingham combined for 63 of Avenida's points in an exciting game between two determined and well-coached teams.

Beretta-Famila opened an early 5-0 advantage on a three-pointer by Laura Macchi and an Antibe lay-up, but Salamanca struck back with five consecutive Lyttle points to tie the game.

The visitors however went up by four again after a put-back by Kathrin Ress right immediately after entering the game to make it 11-7.

The Salamanca club had little going on outside which wasn't getting any better when Silvia Dominguez got steamrolled.

The Spain international guard caught an elbow in the face and was accidently run over. She had to leave the game temporarily with three minutes to play in the first quarter.

But the formidable duo of Lyttle and Willingham kept Avenida in the game with some nice post moves and offensive rebounds.

When Willingham stepped to the free-throw line for her second consecutive three-point play, she tied the score at 15 each with less than two minutes to go in the first quarter.

Torrens ended the slump for the Salamanca wing players with a three-ball and a breakaway lay-up to end the quarter at 20-15 for the hosts.

At this moment Beretta-Famila had already amassed a woeful nine turnovers as they could not cope with the aggressive man-to-man defense of Avenida, who consequently pressured the ball and denied easy passes on the wing.

An 8-0 run with three-pointers of Willingham and Isa Sanchez forced Schio Coach Sandro Orlando to call a timeout.

The result was yet another turnover on the first possession.

Torrens showed her great athleticism on a fade-away jumper to put her team up 30-18.

Avenida repeatedly torched the Italians' zone defense, which was meant to limit Salamanca's inside penetration.

Torrens' quickness was particularly helpful when she drove into the middle of the zone and then found Lyttle for an easy lay-up to make it 37-23 with 2:37 to go until half-time.

With only two seconds to play in the half, Salamanca ran their frequently used backdoor play for Lyttle on an inbound. The American center finished with a nice alley-oop lay-up. At the break, the home side looked fully in control at 42-27 with the guests plagued by their 13 turnovers and three fouls on Mudju Ngoyisa.

Nicole Antibe scored the first points of the second half for the Italian outfit only to be answered by lay-ups by Lyttle and Olga Podkovalnikova .

When a nice pass by Laura Macchi hit the cutting Chiara Pastore and the her lay-up cut the deficit to 46-36, Jordi Fernandez called a timeout.

Schio, going with a small but very aggressive line-up with Macchi at power forward, continued to battle.

A Rafaela Masciadri three-pointer from the corner gave them hope by trimming the deficit to seven midway through the third quarter.

Macchi followed with another three-pointer and a lay-up by Mudju Ngoyisa left the Italians trailing only 46-44 with 4:57 to play in the quarter.

The crowd got nervous but kept pushing their team, even after a powerful lay-up by Ngoyisa had brought the visitors to within 48-47.

With the momentum about to change, Dominguez once again called the back-door play and Lyttle was fouled on yet another alley-oop lay-up but missed the ‘and one' shot.

The unstoppable Torrens closed the quarter with a 5-0 run of her own, the last shot being a step-back three-pointer with time expiring.

Schio and especially Macchi would not go away, though, and the Italian international answered with five straight points of her own to start the final quarter and bring Beretta-Famila back to 56-55.

But again from long range, Torrens struck and a Willingham three-point play put the Spanish side up 62-55.

Both teams exchanged blows with Salamanca always holding a slight edge.

When Dominguez drove into the zone and found Lyttle with a great pass, the lead went back to nine points and with a little less than five minutes to play, the Italians looking overwhelmed.

Sanchez, one of the crowd favorites, followed up with another three-ball to put her side up 72-60.

There was little hope for Schio in sight.

The home side cruised the rest of the way, getting the fans excited and cheering for the final two minutes of the game.

Grabbing the fifth spot in the ranking means they will avoid favorites Spartak and Ekaterinburg until a possible Final Four match-up for Salamanca.

Macchi once again was a true leader, scoring 16 points in defeat.

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