|"It was one of the toughest matches we have played so far" - Kelsey Bone|
Galatasaray Odeabank have improved to 6-2 and drawn level with USK Prague at the top of Group C, after claiming a 63-55 win over WBC Novi Zagreb in Istanbul on Wednesday night.
Zagreb set out to prove that they are much better than their 1-6 record at the start of the game suggested and the Turkish powerhouse only managed to pull away decisively from their persistent visitors in the fourth quarter.
The Croatian side passed the ball inside to center Luca Ivankovic, who collected eight early points as Zagreb led 20-13 with 58 seconds left in the opening period.
Sebnem Kimyacioglu however hit a three-pointer on either side of the first buzzer and prevented the visitors' lead from expanding further.
Galatasaray turned the tables midway through the second quarter, when Bahar Caglar scored her first points in the game to give her team a 25-24 lead with 4:33 remaining to the half-time buzzer.
After their excellent start, Zagreb were suffocated and only managed to score seven points in the entire second frame and the hosts pulled ahead 33-27 at the break.
The visitors threw everything at Galatasaray when the two teams returned from the locker rooms and an Elina Babkina triple with 5:09 left in the third reduced the gap to 35-33, but that was as close as Zagreb would come.
By means of reply, Shavonte Zellous with a lay-up sparked a 7-0 Galatasaray mini-run and the hosts went into the final frame leading 46-39.
They led from a safe distance, mostly in double digits, the rest of the way before Milica Dabovic with a triple at the final buzzer reduced the final difference to eight points.
Sancho Lyttle registered a double-double of 20 points and 15 rebounds, Turkish international Isil Alben delivered an all-round display of 11 points, seven rebounds and eight assists and Zellous finished with 14 points for Galatasaray.
For Zagreb, Babkina had 16 points and six rebounds and Ivankovic collected a double-double of 12 points and a game-high 17 rebounds.