The elite teams in Russian basketball descended upon Ekaterinburg on Thursday and Friday for the final four of the Cup of Russia.
Sparta&K Moscow Region got knocked off by Nadezhda 85-82 in the semifinals in a rematch of a league game won by Sparta&K days earlier. Sue Bird – who had made the game-winning shot in OT in the previous meeting – missed a triple that would have tied the game with four seconds left on the clock. Bird scored 11 points, handed out six assists and grabbed five rebounds. Ilona Korstin came off the bench to score a team-high 18 points. Lioudmila Sapova scored a game-high 20 points, shooting a perfect 10-of-10 at the free throw line. Tina Charles contributed 19 points and nine boards.
The other semifinal was no contest, as UMMC Ekaterinburg blew out Dynamo-GUVD by a 99-48 final. The hosts outscored Dynamo-GUVD by at least nine points in every quarter. Ekaterinburg shot 60 percent from the field while holding Dynamo-GUVD to 28.3 percent shooting. Maria Stepanova led the rout with 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Olga Arteshina scored 18 and pulled down nine rebounds.
Sparta&K bounced back to claim third place by defeating Dynamo-GUVD 83-69. Bird turned scorer, putting up 21 points on 6-of-11 shooting, including three three-pointers. Sonya Petrovic and Noelle Quinn added 12 points apiece.
The final was close throughout, but Ekaterinburg held on for the 79-73 victory to claim the Cup of Russia. Arteshina earned MVP honors after scoring 12 points, while Sandrine Gruda came up big in the final with 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting. Her Connecticut teammate Charles had a double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds) in defeat.
Ros Casares Valencia cruised to another Liga Feminina win, topping Celta Indepo 99-51 on Friday. Four players scored at least 14 points: Edwige Lawson with 16, Rebekkah Brunson with 15 and 14 apiece for Katie Douglas and Marta Fernandez. Nuria Martinez handed out seven assists, Cindy Lima had a double-double (11 points, 11 boards) and Jana Vesela made her usual well-rounded contributions: eight points, eight rebounds, five steals and four assists.
In a game with important playoff implications, the Bendigo Spirit beat the Dandenong Jayco Rangers 67-56. Foul trouble limited Abby Bishop, who scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds in 24 minutes. But only five total players scored as the Rangers shot 29.1 percent from the field. Kristi Harrower had 16 points and 10 boards for Bendigo.
The matchup of the top two teams in the WNBL saw the Bulleen Boomers solidify their spot atop the league with a 79-72 victory over the Canberra TransAct Capitals. Suzy Batkovic’s big game was not enough for Canberra. Batkovic had 24 points, six rebounds, five steals and four assists. Outside of the five players who scored at least eight points, however, the rest of the team totaled just seven points. On the other side, Bulleen was more balanced. Rachel Jarry scored 17 points, Elyse Penaluna had 16 points and 11 rebounds and Liz Cambage scored 15.
Earlier today in Israel, Elizur Ramla blew past Elizur Holon 89-67. Kia Vaughan went off for Ramla, scoring 31 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Le’coe Willingham scored 21 points and had 17 boards, while Tanisha Wright scored seven points and grabbed seven rebounds. Shay Doron threw in 16 points. Kerri Gardin led Holon with 18 points and 10 boards.