Kibirkštis MRU (3-1) made 12-of-22 three point shots to beat the defending champion Horizont Minsk 71-64 on Tuesday, January 11, at the Mykolas Romeris University in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Players of the game
Gabriele Sulske missed all five field goal attempts in the first half but stepped up in a big way after the break.
Vilnius point guard scored 13 of her 14 points in the second half.
Sulske forced eight fouls, made three shots from downtown and dished out six assists.
Livija Sakevičiūte also had 14 points on fine 4-of-8 shooting from the field and a perfect 4-of-4 from charity stripe.
Forward grabbed four rebounds and made three dimes for a team high efficiency rating of 17.
Egle Zabotkaite connected all three three pointers in the first half and scored 12 points from the bench.
Karolina Kazočiūnaite and Camille Droguet added eight and seven points respectively.
Janina Inkina scored a game high 20 points but it wasn`t enough for Horizont Minsk.
University of Arkansas at Little Rock standout had 14 points in the second half.
Inkina made an alley-oop shot in the last minute of regulation, just moments after a missed layup in previous possession.
She made 7-of-9 field goal attempts after the break.
Anastasiya Verameyenka posted a solid double-double and a game high efficiency rating of 20.
The reigning league MVP had 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Victoryia Hasper contributed with 12 points and five rebounds.
Kibirkštis MRU scored 36 points from the three point land, while Horizont Minsk missed all six three-point field goal attempts.
The Sparks went on a 26-8 run in the third quarter for a 56-37 lead.
The second half opened with a 12-2 blast, highlighted by two three pointers from Sulske, while Kazočiūnaite and Sakevičiūte added one successful attempt each.
Sulske added another three pointer late in the third quarter and Droguet put an exclamation point.
Horizont Minsk attempted a comeback and came as close as five points 67-62 with 78 seconds left.
Miknaite missed a jump shot and Horizont had a chance to make it a one possession game but failed in the next attack.
Horizont front court trio – Verameyenka, Inkina and Hasper – dominated in the paint 18-42.
Three-to-see combined for a 46 points.
Kibirkštis MRU won the first half 30-29 thanks to a 6-of-11 shooting from the three point line.
The Sparks also scored more points off turnovers 23-8.
Kibirkštis MRU qualified for the playoffs for the second time in a row.
Gitautas Kievina`s team made the Final Eight in 2021 after a four year break.
Horizont Minsk posted a 6-1 record last year but is 1-3 since then.
In order to qualify, Horizont need to beat Olimpia Grodno and get a helping hand from Žabiny Brno in their home finale against Pieštanske Čajky on January 26.
Photos: Vainius Sodeika
STANDINGS, as of January 11, 2022
Žabiny Brno 3-1 (+45) Q
BC Samara 3-1 (+24) Q
Kibirkštis MRU 3-1 (+2) Q
Pieštanske Čajky 2-2 (+15)
Horizont Minsk 1-3 (-9)
Olimpia Grodno 0-4 (-63)
Nika Syktyvkar 3-0 (+85) Q
Tsmoki Minsk 3-2 (-32) Q
Peresvet SFEDU 2-1 (+8)
SBŠ Ostrava 1-1 (+9)
Young Angels Košice 1-1 (+0)
Liepāja/LSSS 0-5 (-70)
Playoffs: January 17 – February 28, 2022; best-of-two
A1 – B4, A2 – B3, B2 – A3, B1 – A4
Final Four: March 25-27, 2022
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