Le Mans finished the season on a high-note with a 68-78 win over Olympiacos Piraeus at the Peace and Friendship Stadium on Thursday. Le Mans started the season with eight straight losses, but will surely want to remember how it finished with back-to-back wins. Olympiacos meanwhile dropped to 6-4, but still took second place in Group A and will continue on to the Top 16. Le Mans played with surprising energy led by Dewarick Spencer’s 20 points and Alain Koffi, who with 15 points and 13 rebounds recorded his fourth double-double in his last six games. Lynn Greer and Yotam Halperin paced the Reds with 15 apiece in defeat.
Three minutes after the tip-off, the score stood at 0-2 in favor of Le Mans as both teams were executing extremely poor on the offensive end. Koffi added another pair of free throws to make it 0-4 before Theo Papaloukas scored Olympiacos’s first point in the game after four-and-a-half silent minutes. Greer and Zoran Erceg made it 4-4, but the guests continued to feed the ball inside with Joao Paulo Batista recording their first basket to make it 4-6. Nikola Vujcic connected with a nice sky-hook, but it was after his assist to Giorgos Printezis that Olympiacos took its first lead. Koffi was there for Le Mans, though, netting a triple. Spencer added a jumper to make it 10-13 before the slow-rhythm, defense-oriented first period ended at 12-15 with the guests at helm.
A tip-in by Pape Badiane was soon answered by a powerful post move by Sofoklis Schortsianitis at 14-17. However, it was obvious that Le Mans had control of the game's tempo. Jeremy Leloup nailed a three-pointer, but, the hosts reacted with a 12-0 streak punctuated by Milos Teodosic's corner-triple, Schortsianitis's two-handed dunk and Halperin's three-pointer made it 24-20 in less than two minutes. The Reds were determined to keep on rolling as their full-court pressure made it difficult for Le Mans to set up its offense. Halperin extended Olympiacos' run, but soon a triple by Antoine Diot and a basket by Batista curbed the hosts' enthusiasm at 26-25. Maleye Ndoye fired in a three-pointer to put the visitors ahead again 26-28 after an impressive 8-point-charge. Erceg dunked with force to tie it and Papaloukas connected from behind the arc for a 31-28 Olympiacos advantage. The two teams went to the lockers at 31-30 after a balanced 20 minutes of play.
Both teams found baskets in the paint before Spencer nailed a three-pointer to make it 35-37. Greer tied it within seconds, but Ndoye added another from behind the arc as Le Mans was once again dictating the tempo. Spencer chipped in the visitors third triple in less than four minutes to make it 39-43 and Brian Chase increased it to 42-47 on the break. Koffi drove for an easy layup and Chase sank back-to-back three-pointers to put the guests ahead 44-55 after three quarters.
Greer connected twice to close the gap, but Spencer reacted for the guests with a nice jumper-plus-foul. Spencer was in the zone as he added one more from behind the arc. Halperin found an easy layup to make it 54-61 as the crowd got noisy, but Le Mans was able to keep its nerve. Koffi scored twice inside to rebuild the visitors' double-digit lead with five minutes to play. Ioannis Bouroussis and Vujcic combined to get to 58-65, but Le Mans had the solutions as David Bluthenthal and Spencer combined for 5 points. Papaloukas, Greer and Bouroussis cut it to 64-71, but there was no time left for Olympiacos to do much more as Le Mans sent the Reds to their first home defeat this season.
Thursday, January 15, 2009