CSKA Samara fought off a brave Bourges Basket to take third place in the EuroLeague Women Final Four in Moscow Region.
The Russian side, champions in 2005 and runners-up in 2006, were not at their best, but managed to hold off a determined effort from the French.
"For us it was very difficult after losing the first game," said CSKA coach Igor Grudin.
"It was difficult to prepare things and our girls were tired. But we finished with a victory and that's not bad anyway."
Amaya Valdemoro continued her run of good form following her EuroLeague Women season-high 26-point performance against Spartak Moscow Region in Friday’s semi-final. She scored 23 points to lead her team, while Ann Wauters weighed in with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
"It's better to finish with a win," said Valdemoro.
"But it is unfortunate we are not playing in the final game. Someone had to lose the first semi-final game."
Bourges were in danger of losing the game after an uninspired opening 10 minutes of play.
|Amaya Valdemoro had 23 points against Bourges|
Back in their first Final Four since 2003, Bourges mustered only seven points in the first quarter and shot an insipid 2/15 from the floor.
Trailing 16-7, it took some inspired play from Evanthia Maltsi and Sonia Kireta to get Bourges back into contention.
Maltsi had eight points in the second period while 1.98m center Kireta added seven as Bourges took advantage of eight Samara turnovers to take a brief lead at 30-29, before Samara closed out the half ahead 33-30.
Matched up in the same group in the preliminary round, Bourges and Samara split their home and away games.
After a close win in France (63-61), Bourges succumbed 74-54 to Samara in Russia and this game followed the same pattern in the second half.
Despite their brave second quarter display, Bourges simply ran out of steam after the break against Samara’s superior firepower.
Samara looked in no danger of surrendering their lead in the third period, although Bourges cut the advantage to six points after 30 minutes, 52-46, to set up a possible final quarter rally.
But it was not to be as Samara reeled off a 10-3 run, capped by an Olga Arteshina three-pointer, and extended their lead to double digits, 62-51, with little more than four minutes remaining.
Bourges had nothing left and Samara closed to a 68-59 win.
Maltsi had a season-high 24 points for Bourges while Kireta contributed 12 points and eight rebounds.
"We made mistakes here, and we paid for those mistakes," said Maltsi.
"But we have to move on."