The Euroleague Women Final 8 script is now being rewritten as the supposed lead role never turned up and won’t be in the final on Sunday.
Galatasaray shocked the 5,000-strong crowd inside the DIVS Sports Hall by knocking UMMC Ekaterinburg out of the tournament, winning 77-70 in the first semi-final match-up.
Playing without 2013 FIBA Europe Women’s Player of the Year Sancho Lyttle, who sat out for three quarters with a suspected ankle injury, the deck looked stacked against the Turkish side, but led by Lyttle’s Spanish team-mate Alba Torrens, who led all scorers with 29 points, they inflicted UMMC’s first defeat at home since January 2012.
Two years of dominance, vanished. Galatasaray themselves were surprised.
“I don’t even know what to say,” said a shell-shocked Shavonte Zellous of Galatasaray. “We had a game plan and everyone stuck to it and with their quality, wow – this was a big-time win. When we lost Sancho we all rallied together and just fought. We showed what kind of team we are with this win and what kind of heart we have.”
Diana Taurasi led Ekaterinburg with 21 points but the disappointment on the Russian side’s face told the story. They were shell shocked. Whether they simply didn’t show up; they underestimated their opponent or were simply outplayed, they were beaten, and deservedly so. UMMC trailed 28-13 after the first quarter and 50-29 at the half. They cut the deficit at one stage to just six points, but for a team that were red hot favourites going into this Final Eight and especially carrying the extra momentum of being the home team; they were woeful in this game.
“It was a fantastic game and Galatasaray deserved to win,” UMMC coach Olaf Lange said. “We were not good enough on the day, with our defence not at the level it needed to be.”
He certainly didn’t mince his words.
The Euroleague Women’s trophy will have a new name written for 2014. It won’t be the team that was written in the script.