Newcomer Adecco Estudiantes got its first win since its comeback to the Euroleague on Thursday night by beating Partizan Pivara MB by 71-59 in Palacio Vistalegre of Madrid. Estudiantes never saw its win threatened once it built a comfortable lead, and now improves its Group A record to 1-1, while Partizan fell to 0-2. Andrae Patterson led the winners with his 15 points and 8 rebounds, Nikola Loncar added 14 points and Iker Iturbe bagged 12. For the losers, Dejan Milojevic was the undisputable leader on court with a huge double-double of 17 points and 20 rebounds. He was the only Partizan player scoring in double digits. Both teams had poor percentages from the arc, 7 of 25 for Estudiantes and 5 of 24 for Partizan, but a better percentage of the hosts from the free throw line and in two-point shots was the key to victory.
After an initial 0-5 start by Partizan, including a triple by Milan Gurovic, it was back and forth on the scoreboard almost constantly. Hernan Jasen put in two baskets around 4 free throws by Carlos Jimenez to start Estudiantes coming back. Iturbe came off the bench for 2 free throws and his team's first triple as Estudiantes shot ahead 13-9. Vule Avdalovic then scored the first 3 points in a Partizan run that produced a 15-15 tie, but Iturbe got loose inside to put Estudiantes ahead once again. Good news came for Partizan in the early shooting of new signee Blake Stepp. Having already landed his first shot from the arc, he now lined up another to put the guests back in front, 17-18. Estudiantes got the last chance of the quarter, however, as Patterson put back an offensive rebounds for an 18-19 home lead after 10 minutes.
Partizan looked to one of its teenage prospects, center Semih Erden, to tie 20-20 early in the second quarter, and another, Uros Tripkovic, to put the guests up again, 22-24, on a triple. Estudiantes got its answer from Loncar, also from the arc. Yet another Partizan teen, Kosta Perovic, tied it 27-27 at the free throw line with his only point so far, and Avdalovic put in 2 more at the line as the guests went ahead halfway through the quarter. Again Loncar responded, with a layup, then both he and Jasen got open and nailed shots from the arc to establish the first solid run of the game, 8-0, and a 35-29 Estudiantes lead. Loncar had one more basket in him before the half to lock the hosts' lead in at 37-33 after 20 minutes.
Iturbe scored to match the highest Estudiantes lead, 39-33, before defenses took over in the third quarter. Perovic got a basket inside, however, and then Gurovic broke a drought to pull Partizan within 39-37. But Iturbe was the man again, warding off Partizan with a three-point strike. Patterson added 4 points in the next 2 minutes as the lead hit a new high, 46-39. As the quarter neared its end, again it was Patterson, this time measuring up from the three-point arc, who extended the Estudiantes lead to 51-43. After free throws dominated the final 2 minutes, Estudiantes closed the third quarter with a new, nine-point margin, 54-45.
After its own teenager, Sergio Rodriguez, established a double-digit lead with a jump shot early in the final quarter, the Estudiantes lead never fell below 10 points the rest of the way, not even when Stepp hit another triple for 60-50. After that, the free throws of Estudiantes and isolated plays by Patterson or Loncar helped to keep the hosts at a considerable distance, 66-52. Milojevic was still huge in all aspects of the game, rebounding like mad, but his teammates didn't respond with good shots except when Tripkovic hit another triple for 66-55. Estudiantes overcame a Partizan's zone with good ball circulation that finished with Nacho Azofra's triple from the right corner, 69-55, leaving little time left for anything but the celebration by fans of a first Euroleague win of the season for Estudiantes.
Thursday, November 11, 2004