A thrilling finish to Game 1 of the Russian Superleague Finals this morning in Ekaterinburg. Down seven going to the fourth after Spartak won the third period 24-8, the hosts rallied to take the lead on an Asjha Jones score with 1:43 to play. Sylvia Fowles tied it with 13 seconds left, setting up Cappie Pondexter’s heroics. The UMMC Ekaterinburg guard knocked down the go-ahead jumper with four ticks on the clock, and it proved the game-winner when her WNBA teammate Diana Taurasi missed a three at the buzzer. Ekaterinburg took a 1-0 lead in the series with the 61-59 victory.
The game was slow-paced and defensive-oriented. Spartak shot just 39.0 percent from the field. Taurasi missed all nine of her three-point attempts and was 3-of-18 from the field. Sue Bird (five points, 2-of-8 shooting) and Lauren Jackson (seven points, 3-of-8) were both also held in check by Ekaterinburg’s defense. The lone Spartak star to come through on offense was Fowles, who scored 18 points and pulled down eight rebounds.
UMMC relied heavily on the duo of Pondexter, who scored 18 points, and Sandrine Gruda. The Connecticut Sun post had 22 points, shooting 10-of-16 from the field.
The series now shifts to Vidnoe for Game 2 on Saturday. Spartak needs a win to keep its hopes of a third straight Russian Superleague Championship alive, while Ekaterinburg will be going for the sweep.