Friday, January 30, 2009

Spartak Reaches Quarterfinals

Playing on the road, Spartak Moscow Region crushed ZVVZ USK Praha's hope of forcing a decisive Game 3 in their Euroleague eighth-final matchup by taking a commanding early lead and cruising to a 92-78 win in Prague. Spartak scored 58 points by halftime to take an 18-point advantage to the break of Game 2.

Diana Taurasi led the offensive onslaught, scoring a game-high 26 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Taurasi flirted with a triple-double, grabbing nine rebounds and handing out eight assists (and, with seven turnovers, she wasn't far from a dubious quadruple-double either). Five Spartak players reached double-figures, with Lauren Jackson (13 points on 5-of-11 shooting, five rebounds, three steals) taking a relative backseat. Sue Bird needed just six shots (making five) to score 10 points, handing out four assists and pulling down four boards.

It was a long night for USK Praha's Swin Cash, who shot 2-of-14 from the field. Cash did everything else, contributing seven rebounds, three assists and three steals to go with her seven points, but could not get the shot to drop. Spartak's Sylvia Fowles blocked three shots and was a big reason why USK Praha shot but 39.0 percent on two-point attempts.

Having won the series 2-0, Spartak advances to the quarterfinals. Ros Casares Valencia is waiting, having swept Broker Kosice, winning the two games by a combined 78 points. At the beginning of the calendar year, Ros Casares added Candice Wiggins to its core of DeLisha Milton-Jones and Spanish legend Amaya Valdemoro. The result is a team that should be able to make things difficult for Spartak in the next round. The best-of-three series opens Feb. 17 in Russia.

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