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Recap: BLMA defeats Nadezhda 75-71 in Game 1 of the EuroCup Women Finals

It was a close game, but BLMA has a four-point edge heading into Game 2 thanks to Sami Whitcomb’s buzzer-beater.

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Sami Whitcomb drained a last-second three-point shot to give BLMA a key 75-71 lead after Game 1 of the EuroCup Women Finals.
Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Game 1 of the EuroCup Women Finals is now in the books, with French team BLMA getting a close 75-71 win over Nadezhda on the road Wednesday in Orenburg, Russia. It was always a relatively close game, but BLMA led for 37 minutes and by as many as 11 points at one point in the second quarter.

However, the second half was much closer for both sides. Nadezhda was able to tie the game several times, but could never get a bucket to take the lead.

For BLMA, center Helena Ciak led all scorers with 18 points on 9-of-11 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds. Ana Dabovic added 13 points and 5 assists while Sami Whitcomb scored 10 points.

Brionna Jones led Nadezhda with 19 points and 8 rebounds and Erica Wheeler added 13 points and 7 assists.

This series can still go either way

BLMA came into this game as a team known for hot shooting. They shot well from the 3-point line (8-of-21 overall), but committed 13 turnovers that turned into 12 Nadezhda points. Besides Ciak, BLMA only scored 20 points in the paint. Nadezhda scored 40.

Nadezhda is known for strong team defense and kept BLMA from making too many threes. But they also allowed the French side to shoot 55.6 percent from inside the arc.

In Game 2, Nadezhda will have to win by five points or more to win the EuroCup Women title. They certainly have the tools and offensive efficiency to do just that.

Sami Whitcomb scored a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give BLMA breathing room

In a traditional 40-minute game, a winning team scoring a 3-pointer at the buzzer is often unsportsmanlike. But with EuroCup Women’s home-and-home playoff series format, the total score of both games determines the winner. BLMA was winning on the road and could use any cushion to help make things a little easier at home. Whitcomb’s 3-pointer delivered that cushion her team needed.

Whitcomb continued to be streaky in this leg, shooting 2-of-7 from the field. But her last basket was certainly her biggest.

Brionna Jones and Erica Wheeler continue to be Nadezhda’s consistent low post force

The WNBA duo of Jones and Wheeler are thriving in the Finals, as they combined for 32 points and 14 rebounds. Wheeler showed her potential as an up-and-coming point guard as she dished seven assists, had four steals and committed only one turnover while making plays like this:

Jones’ EuroCup Women performance this winter has been excellent and could give her a more prominent role with the Connecticut Sun this summer in a crowded post rotation. In two WNBA seasons, Jones has averaged less than 10 minutes a game while playing behind other frontcourt players like Jonquel Jones, Alyssa Thomas and Chiney Ogwumike. After this European season, expect her to get a shot for more consistent playing time.

Next game

Game 2 will be on Wednesday, April 10. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:45 p.m. ET.