Tina Terrific As Spartak Beat Determined TEO


The balance of power in women's basketball has been in Russia in recent seasons and that's not about to change with Spartak Moscow Region now on the scene in the EuroLeague Women.

Champions of last year's EuroCup Women, this Spartak unit has all the makings of a team could last deep into the play-offs in the tougher EuroLeague if Wednesday's 61-47 triumph TEO Vilnius is anything to go by.

USA international Tina Thompson poured in 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the winners, and she was supported by Portuguese guard Ticha Penicheiro, who had seven assists and six steals to go with her four points.

Taj McWilliams was also huge, scoring eight points and hauling down 11 boards.

The hosts, who trailed the entire game, found themselves up against the ropes at the start when Thompson's jumper and three-pointer made it 10-2 midway through the first quarter.

TEO refused to let Spartak pull away, however, and when Sandra Valuzyte's jump shot ripped cord, the home side trailed 14-12 with 1:45 to go in the opening quarter.

Thompson put the visitors back in the ascendancy with a three-ball before the end of the period, and with another to start the second as Spartak went on a 9-0 run for a 23-12 advantage.

Marina Karpunina's three-pointer stretched the Spartak lead even further at 26-14 - their biggest of the half - but Natalia Hejkova's team simply couldn't deliver the knockout punch.

A Thompson jumper just before the interval made it 30-22 in favour of the Russians, but twice TEO closed to within four in the third quarter.

Nearly six minutes after the restart, Jurgita Streimikyte converted an alley-oop off a Rima Valentiene pass to pull to within 37-33.

Valuzyte's jumper made it 39-35 with 2:30 to go in the third.

Each time they sliced the lead to four, however, McWilliams replied for the visitors, making two free throws after Streimikyte's sky-walking act, and then a jumper after Valuzyte's basket as Spartak went back into a 41-35 advantage.

Teo got no closer than six points the rest of the way.

Spartak played bigger, evidenced by their 46-37 edge on the boards, and the fact that they made 23 trips to the line and converted 19 compared to just six of eight for TEO.

Valuzyte had 16 points to pace the Vilnius team.

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