The big story in women’s basketball right now – at least beyond the spate of upsets in the first couple of weeks of the NCAA season – is the impact the worldwide financial crisis is beginning to have in Russia. As has been rumored, the end has apparently come for Russian power CSKA Moscow, which is no longer in Euroleague, leaving Group B a team short.
There is no direct tie to the Storm, but CSKA was the main rival of Sue Bird’s and Lauren Jackson’s Spartak squad, so this totally changes the dynamic of the Russian Superleague as well as Euroleague. It’s also unclear how much more fallout may still be coming.
To the games of the weekend. Spartak actually played Monday at Ekaterinburg, and as Paul Swanson notes there was an excellent crowd of a listed 5,000 in the house for the showdown between two of Russia’s three undefeated teams (CSKA, for now, being the other). UMMC Ekaterinburg led 46-35 at the half only to see Spartak turn it on in the third quarter. Spartak outscored Ekaterinburg 26-8 in the 10-minute period, taking the lead and holding on for a 79-75 win.
Bird had 10 points, five boards and four assists in the win. It was a forgettable night for Jackson, limited to five points on 1-of-5 shooting and five boards in 18 minutes of action. Spartak got 24 points, nine rebounds and seven assists from Diana Taurasi to overcome a strong Ekaterinburg team.
In France, Tarbes Bigorre Elite’s undefeated start to the season is over after 15 combined wins in EuroCup and LBF play. This time, Tarbes was unable to win a close game, falling 64-62 to Union Hainaut after being outscored 23-11 in the fourth quarter. In the loss, Tanisha Wright had 14 points, eight assists and five rebounds.
The other Storm team that was undefeated in both domestic and international play stayed that way narrowly over the weekend, Athinaikos holding off Apollon Ptolemaidas 75-74 despite a late scare. Gearlds pulled down eight rebounds, contributing on a night where she could not find her shot (1-of-12 from the field). Four other Athinaikos players scored double-figures.
UL Aughnish worked overtime to outlast DCU Mercury in the Irish Superleague, 68-67. Kristen O’Neill played the full 45 minutes and had a game-high 28 points on 9-of-19 shooting, including four three-pointers. She added 11 rebounds and three steals.
ZVVZ USK Praha is still unbeaten in the Czech Basketball League following another blowout win on Sunday over Basket Slovanka, 110-69. The game was bizarrely close in the first half, with USK Praha leading 47-46. In the second half, Praha outscored Slovanka 63-23. Yikes. Praha needed just 17 minutes from Swin Cash, who had 12 points and eight boards during that time. Six players scored at least 12 points.
Camille Little had her best game in Turkey as TED Kayseri Koleji handled Burhaniye 83-62 on Saturday to improve to 3-2. Little finished with 23 points on 9-of-17 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds.
Cadi La Seu dropped a 71-62 final to Hondarribia-Irun. I’m not quite sure what to make of the boxscore, which shows two stat lines for Kelly Santos. Alas, the one I suspect is correct shows Santos having a very tough night, missing 11 of her 13 shot attempts. She did apparently grab eight rebounds in 29 minutes of action. (This seems more likely than Santos getting shut out on the boards in 35 minutes, which is the other possibility.)