|20 September 2006
Game Report, Russia vs Spain, 60-56 - Quarter-Finals
São Paulo / Brazil - Tatiana Shchegoleva scored five crucial points near the end to propel Russia to a thrilling triumph over Spain and earn her team a place in the semi-finals of the FIBA World Championship for Women.
In a battle of European heavyweights, Russia trailed 53-51 after Laia Palau made one of two free throws for Spain.
But Shchegoleva's three-point play with 2:04 remaining put the Russians in
front for good.
Immediately after, Palau had a pass picked off by Natalia Vodopyanova, and
Shchegoleva then buried a jump shot to put Igor Grudin's team into a 56-53
Spain's bid began to unravel.
Palau missed, and Oxana Rahmatulina replied with a lay-up take to the lead
to five with 1:04 to go. Russia had to survive a nervous final minute,
though, after Amaya Valdemoro nailed a three-pointer to take her tally to 21
for the game and cut the Spaniards' deficit to 58-56.
Domingo Diaz's side then got their chance to tie or take the lead after
Valdemoro's CSKA Samara team-mate, Maria Stepanova, lost the ball out of
bounds for her eighth turnover.
Valdemoro, Spain's best player in the tournament, missed with a jump shot
but Ana Montaņana grabbed the offensive rebound.
Valdemoro had another chance, but missed a lay-up and Eva Montesdeoca had to
foul to Vodopyanova to stop the clock.
Russia called a timeout to discuss their strategy, and when play resumed,
Vodopyanova made both free throws to stretch the lead to 60-56.
Valdemoro missed a lay-up to finish off a heartbreaking final minute for her
and Spain as Russia, losers in the gold medal game to the United States in
2002, won by four points.
Russia's Stepanova, Vodopyanova and Ilona Korstin each had 14 points while
Shchegoleva finished with 12.
Valdemoro's 21 were a high for Spain and the contest.
Spain had built a 21-11 lead at the end of the first quarter as Valdemoro,
Elisa Aguilar and Montaņana contributed five points apiece.
Russia fought back with a Stepanova lay-up capping a 12-1 run to give
Grudin's side a 23-22 advantage, and they extended that to 31-27 by
Vodopyanova made two free throws after the restart to give Russia their
biggest lead at 33-27, but Valdemoro & Co scrapped away and by the end of
the third quarter had a 46-41 lead as Aguilar knocked down a three-pointer a
second before the buzzer.
Spain weren't able to pull away, and Shchegoleva's heroics at the end put
the Russians on their way to victory.
Russia's defense gave nothing away inside with Spain a mere 13 of 41 (31.7%)
from two-point range. From behind the arc, Diaz's side were eight of 20
(40%) with Valdemoro making four of eight (50%).
Russia were zero for six from long range, but inside the arc they were 25 of
54 (46%). At the line, Grudin's team were 10 of 12 (83%) compared to just
six of 10 (60%) for Spain.
Spain's pressure defense caused Russia numerous problems, forcing them into
20 turnovers while they committed just 14 themselves.
The only stat that mattered at the end, as always, was the scoreline.
By Jeff Taylor, PA Sport