|Lindsey Harding, pictured here playing for former club TEO Vilnius, had a major impact in her debut game for Galatasaray, sinking the game-winning shot|
Lindsey Harding enjoyed a dream debut for Galatasaray after hitting the game-winning basket with seven seconds remaining, to hand her new team a 49-48 success against a heartbroken ZVVZ USK Prague.
It was a case of déjà vu for the crestfallen visitors who lost in similarly gut-wrenching fashion during the regular season, when they were subjected to a 58-56 reverse at the Abdi Ipekci Arena.
Once again, Prague play-caller Natalia Hejkova came up with a strategy to keep pace with Gala in another defensively dominated encounter, although her team blew a glorious opportunity to steal a precious win right at the death.
With the ball in their hands on the last possession and five seconds left on the clock, they barely managed to get any kind of a look at the basket as Jelena Skerovic was forced into throwing up a last ditch air-ball from long-range.
It was a far from convincing display offensively for Galatasaray who didn't have a single player in double-digits, but their defence was again exemplary, holding the visitors to just six points in the fourth quarter.
Gala had led 12-8 after the first ten minutes of action, but were behind by three points at the break and still trailed 42-29 at the end of the third.
Then, when Kia Vaughn nailed a turnaround jump-shot in the clutch to make it 48-46 in the favour of Prague it was a nervy time for Gala, but a free-throw from Silvia Fowles and the decisive score by Harding proved to be sufficient.
Sancho Lyttle impressed defensively with seven steals for the hosts, whilst Vaughn had 15 points for Prague.
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Galatasaray head coach Ekrem Memnun:
"It was a tough game for us. We played against a balanced and serious team. We had two new players; [Lindsey] Harding and [Eshaya] Murphy. We knew that we're not going to win easily so I'm happy that we won. We gave up 11 offensive rebounds and made 20 turnovers which meant that we lost our rhythm. It's a great job to keep USK Prague under 50 points. They made at least 10 points off our simple turnovers near the basket. I congratulate my players; these are the most important days of the season and we had to change our roster. But time will work for us now. I hope we're going to win at Prague."
Galatasaray player Eshaya Murphy:
"You know it was a difficult game for both teams. We played well, it was a low scoring game so defence was the most important issue. We have a couple of new players; I'm really happy here. This team is great and has a great potential to go far. This is just one step. The final goal is to reach the Final Eight."
Prague head coach Natalia Hejkova:
"I think it was a difficult play-off game. We were unlucky in the final moments but we had a great performance on defence. We have to go home now, it's 1-0 but we saw that we can play a good game against Galatasaray."
Prague player Kia Vaughn:
"The game was started slow. The score was low. We just have to go back home and learn good things from today. We have to use the clock a little differently and we should execute at the end of the clock. This is a great play-off series. We have to keep mind, we're a great team."