Thursday saw the Russian Superleague Playoffs continue, with Spartak advancing to the semifinals by sweeping overmatched Kursk Dynamo with an 80-52 road win. The hosts actually were within one at halftime, but Spartak turned up the heat in the second half, outscoring Kursk 21-8 in the third quarter and 20-6 in the fourth. Lauren Jackson paced Spartak with 16 points and nine rebounds, Diana Taurasi adding 16 as well. Sue Bird scored 10 points and handed out five assists.
The two other top seeds also swept, so Spartak will prepare for a challenging semifinal matchup against CSKA Moscow. Meanwhile, Dynamo Moscow is worried about just getting to the semifinals. The Dynamo-Nadezhda matchup is the only one that will go the distance, with Game 3 tomorrow.
Thursday saw the Nadezhda match Dynamo’s opening road victory, winning 87-84 in Moscow. Dynamo took a two-point lead to the final quarter, but never got any closer than four points in the closing stages until the final margin, with Belinda Snell making three free throws just before the buzzer. Janell Burse had 13 points and five rebounds for Dynamo, which was able to score. The challenge was at the other end, where wings Betty Lennox and Shameka Christon got loose for a combined 51 points after hitting for 22 in Game 1. Lennox shot 10-of-20 from the field, while Christon was on fire from downtown, hitting six threes in 10 attempts.