|Maria Stepanova played 11 minutes in her EuroLeague Women comeback|
Having made her return to action in the Russian League last weekend, veteran star Maria Stepanova was back on a EuroLeague Women duty once again as UMMC Ekaterinburg swept their way to a 101-70 Group C success at Novi Zagreb.
The tournament favourites racked up the highest tally of the competition so far this season and became the first to register a three-digit score in a one-sided encounter, to remain unbeaten after seven games.
But, it will be the handful of minutes for Stepanova which will bring most cheer for the orange army of Ekat fans back home, many of whom watched in utter dismay in March of this year when she sustained an ACL injury at the Final Eight in Istanbul.
The margin of victory could probably have been even greater for the Russian side had they not eased up during the closing stages although it was to be expected after giving another awesome display of their power and depth.
Anete Jekabsone and Diana Taurasi impressed in the backcourt as they sunk eight triples between them, with the latter also handing out seven assists.
Whilst in the paint, Candace Parker and Sandrine Gruda were certainly on song and went 12-of-16 under the basket to provide yet more headaches for the home side.
Perhaps mindful of their distinctly lacklustre offering against Novi Zagreb earlier in the campaign, this time around there was no room for any criticism as Ekat opened up with a 30-17 first quarter to lay the tone and that pattern continued.
Mirna Mazic had 17 points and eight rebounds in defeat.
UMMC head coach Olaf Lange:
"I'm much happier than after the first game we played against Novi Zagreb. The first time we weren't prepared for the zone. We prepared this time and we showed up for this game. We were solid. This is the strongest team I have coached, much like a WNBA team."
UMMC player Anete Jekabsone:
"Pretty easy game for us. In the beginning they played good defense. Afterwards we picked up and the end result represents what the game looked like."
Novi Zagreb head coach Vladimir Ivankovic:
"We played well for 17 minutes of the game. It was tough after that. Nothing we didn't expect though, since we expected nothing less from a team such as UMMC Ekaterinburg. The next four rounds are very crucial for us. We are hoping to win some games and to make it to the next round. If that doesn't happen - it won't be a tragedy."
Novi Zagreb Leilani Mitchel:
"We didn't play all that well. There were too many mistakes made. UMMC is one of the best teams in the world. We are getting better. We just need to pick up the improvement phase since we are playing important games after New Year's."