In Wednesday’s final day of group play in the EuroLeague, Ros Casares Valencia had a chance to make a statement against fellow power Galatasaray. With the Storm’s Brian Agler and Karen Bryant in attendance in Valencia, Ros Casares did that, leading from start to finish in a 98-80 victory that wasn’t that close. Maya Moore helped Valencia take command early with 17 first-quarter points. After Galtasaray rallied during the second quarter, Ros Casares blew things open by outscoring the Turkish club 23-12 the remainder of the half and 26-12 in the third quarter. Down 27 entering the final period, Galatasaray was able to make the final outcome more respectable.
Moore scored 26 points on 10-of-19 shooting, but it was scoring balance that really separated Ros Casares. 72 of Galatasaray’s 80 points came from the trio of Diana Taurasi (28), Tina Charles (23) and Epiphanny Prince (21). Valencia got 30 points off the bench, including six from Lauren Jackson. Shay Murphy scored 20 points, Sancho Lyttle had 13 points and 10 boards and even without scoring much (six points) Ann Wauters made her impact felt with 10 rebounds and five assists.
With the win, Ros Casares finishes at the top of Group A. Galatasaray is technically second, but will not play in the eighth-finals, having automatically qualified for the Final Eight as the host. That makes third place in Group A UMMC Ekaterinburg, which finished up group play by overwhelming Uni Seat Gyor 85-45, including 39-12 after the break. Candace Parker’s 19 points and 11 boards led Ekaterinburg, which got 16 points from Sandrine Gruda. Sue Bird had five points and five assists and Svetlana Abrosimova came off the bench for nine points in her first EuroLeague action since November, when she injured her Achilles.
Over in Group C, Wisla Can-Pack Krakow used a furious comeback to knock off Gospic CO, 74-71. Down six with 3:20 left, Wisla scored the game’s last nine points. Ewelina Kobryn gave Krakow the lead for good with a three-point play with 1:53 remaining, then scored again with 1:16 to produce the final margin. Kobryn’s 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting were a game high. She added 11 rebounds and three assists to round out her stat line. Nicole Powell had 19 points and nine boards, while Milka Bjelica (14 points, 10 rebounds) went for a double-double.
Wisla finished behind Sparta&K Moscow Region in the Group C standings, but is the higher seed in the eighth-finals because only games against other teams that advance are counted. Wisla was an excellent 6-2 against top foes, good for third in all of EuroLeague. Ros Casares is second, trailing only undefeated Fenerbahce, and will host CCC Polkowice in a best-of-three series. Wisla hosts ZVVZ USK Praha and Ekaterinburg – the last team to secure home court – matches up with Good Angels Kosice. Those series began Feb. 24, and of course we’ll cover all the Storm ties here in StormTracker.