Opening the best-of-three eighth-final Euroleague series on their home floors, the two elite teams with Storm players got off to great starts Tuesday, winning in lopsided fashion.
Actually, Tanisha Wright and Lotos Gdynia gave Spartak Moscow Region an early scare, taking a 10-0 lead at the start of Game 1 of their series. Any danger was short-lived, however. Spartak answered with an 11-0 spurt and led by 17 by halftime en route to doubling Gdynia up, 98-49. Sue Bird scored nine points, all from beyond the arc, in 19 minutes and did not commit a turnover. It was backcourt-mate Diana Taurasi who did much of the playmaking, handing out 10 assists in addition to recording six steals. Meanwhile, Sylvia Fowles (21 points, 10 boards) and Janel McCarville (22 and 7) dominated the paint.
Wright had 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists, but shot just 5-of-17 from the field. As a team, Gdynia was barely over 30 percent from the field, had seven free throw attempts and committed 21 turnovers.
Janell Burse and TS Wisla Can-Pack held just a five-point advantage at the break, but they controlled the second half by stifling Mizo Pecs 2010 on offense in an 80-53 victory. The second-half margin was 38-17 as just two Mizo Pecs players (Nicole Ohlde, with 14, and former Storm draft pick Allie Quigley with 11) reached double-figures. Five scored at least 10 for Wisla, led by Burse’s 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting, nine boards and four steals. Iziane Castro Marques added 13.
Now, it’s out on the road for the middle game of the series for Spartak and Wisla, while Gdynia tries to stay alive at home. Game 2s of these series will be played on Friday.
Monday was the final round of the regular season in Israel. Already assured of the second seed in the playoffs, Maccabi Ashdod improved to 15-3 with a 78-76 win over ASA Jerusalem. A three by reserve Lena Mustafina with just three seconds left to play gave Ashdod the win. Ashley Walker had nine points and nine rebounds.
Camille Little had a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards to help Maccabi Ramat Hen to an 89-83 win over Raanana Hertzeliya. Tiffany Jackson scored 27 points for Ramat Hen, which will take on Natanya as the No. 5 seed. Ashdod will face Raanana Hertzeliya in the quarterfinals next Monday.