| BC Khimki ended its season with a perfect 6-0 record, one of three teams to do so, by beating VEF Riga 68-79 on the road Tuesday night. After taking a 20-11 first-quarter lead, Khimki never trailed, and whenever Riga got close the visitors seemed to use an extra gear to pull ahead again. The winners were led by Alexey Zhukanenko, who had 19 points, as well as Kresimir Loncar and Zoran Planinic, who added 12 apiece. Planinic also contributed 8 assists. Riga got 19 points from Curtis Millage and 17 from Tyler Cain. Riga, which has also qualified for the Last 16, ended the regular season with a 3-3 record.
After an exchange of baskets to knot the game at 5-5, Courtney Sims knocked in a layup for Riga but then Khimki got consecutive baskets from Zhukanenko, Loncar and Egor Vyaltsev to take a 7-12 advantage. After Cain scored for Riga, the hosts got points from the foul line, pushing the score to 9-16. Chris Quinn added to the lead with a layup and free throws as Khimki closed the opening quarter 11-20. Riga opened the second quarter on a 6-1 run, led by Millage, who drilled a pair of two-point jumpers to cut the deficit to 17-21. Two consecutive layups by Kjimki’s Matt Nielsen pushed the lead to 17-25. Sims and Cain hit two-point baskets, but the visitors added to their margin behind Zhukanenko, whose layup set the scoreboard at 21-31. Millage and Cain answered a 4-0 Khimki run with 7 points of their own to cut Riga’s deficit to 28-35 at halftime.
The teams swapped points, but once a layup by Millage sliced the lead to 34-39, Khimki turned on the jets behind inside scoring by Loncar and lasers from downtown by Planinic, Quinn and Thomas Kelati, opening a 38-54 gap. Millage and Cain continued to fight, scoring a combined 7 points, and along with a triple by Sandis Valters, Riga shrunk the lead to 48-58 at the close of the third quarter. Sandis buried another triple to open the final quarter, as Riga went on a 5-2 to further reduce the lead to 53-60. But with Riga knocking on the door, Khimki surged once again, going on a 10-2 run, led by Planinic, Kelati and Zhukanenko, that opened a 55-70 margin. Then the scoring swayed in Riga’s favor as Khimki hit a dry spell, as free throws and a Cain layup sliced the difference to 65-72 with little more than 2 minutes to go. But Riga could not take anything more off the lead, as Khimki coasted to victory 68-79.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011