Thursday, February 26, 2009

Storm Posts Advance

A day after the Euroleague Final Four was completed, the EuroCup set its semifinals Thursday, with two-game aggregate scoring quarterfinal series moving to the return leg.

Dynamo Moscow and Storm center Janell Burse returned home Thursday with a very comfortable 27-point advantage over ZKK Hemofarm Vrsac and put it on cruise control, winning 73-65. Despite the safe margin, Dynamo's top players got essentially regular minutes. Burse played 25 minutes, scoring 12 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Oxana Zakalyuzhnaya earned game-high honors with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Cras Basket Taranto also held a sizeable lead going into the second leg of the series, but headed out on the road against CB Feve San Jose. The hosts ended up winning the game 63-60, but never threatened making up the entire 23-point difference from the first game as Taranto advanced 126-106 on aggregate. Suzy Batkovic led the way with 17 points, grabbing eight rebounds and adding three steals. Washington wing Shay Murphy tried in vain to lead a San Jose comeback, scoring 30 points on 10-of-16 shooting. Her teammates, however, combined to shoot 10 of 42 from the field (23.8 percent).

The last Storm player in the EuroCup quarters, Katie Gearlds, saw her team enter today's game with a 25-point deficit to make up against Dynamo Kursk. Athinaikos made things interesting, leading to maybe the most dramatic 20-point victory ever. Athinaikos had a 24-point lead and the ball inside the final minute, but a turnover ended the threat. Athinaikos won the game 89-69, but lost 146-141 on aggregate. Gearlds was one of three Athinaikos players to score double-figures, finishing with 16 points and eight rebounds. LaToya Davis also had 26 for Athinaikos, which made a strong run after having to play in the qualifying round just to participate in EuroCup.

After a week off, the two-game semifinal series begin March 12. The two remaining teams with Storm players, Dynamo Moscow and Taranto, play in one semifinal. The other matches Dynamo Kursk with Turkish squad Galatasaray.

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