Toolson, Kuzminskas lead Unicaja to fourth win
Unicaja Malaga bounced back from consecutive losses in Group D by downing Cedevita Zagreb 82-73 at home on Friday. Unicaja improved to 4-2 and got closer to clinch a Top 16 spot while Cedevita dropped to 1-5. Ryan Toolson paced the winners with 19 points off the bench. Mindaugas Kuzminkas had 14, Vladimir Golubovic added 13 and 9 rebounds in just 17 minutes while Kostas Vasileiadis got 10 points for Unicaja. Miro Bilan led Cedevita with 21 points. Roko Ukic added 15 points, 6 rebounds and 9 assists and Marko Arapovic scored 10 for the hosts. Cedevita had a strong start and an outstanding Ukic gave the guests a 10-14 edge. A coast-to-coast layup by Nemanja Gordic extended the lead to 17-23, but Golubovic led a 10-0 run that gave Unicaja a 27-23 margin early in the second quarter. Toolson shined throughout the second quarter, but Gordic and Arapovic kept Cedevita within 44-41 at halftime. Bilan and Arapovic kept Cedevita within 68-67 early in the fourth quarter, but Unicaja improved its defense in crunch time and found a go-to guy in Kuzminskas, who helped Unicaja grab a very valuable home win.
First quarter: The Roko Ukic show takes the stage
Ukic got Cedevita going with a floating layup and a basket inside by Miro Bilan gave the guests a 0-4 lead. Unicaja kept struggling to score and a driving layup by Fran Pilepic capped a 0-6 run. After Mindaugas Kuzminskas dunked, Bilan split free throws. A three-pointer by Kostas Vasileiadis brought the hosts within 5-7. Bilan kept pacing Cedevita with a tip-in that Will Thomas erased with a layup. Another triple by Vasileiadis gave Unicaja its first lead, 10-9. Ukic answered from downtown and hit his trademark one-handed floater to give Cedevita a 10-14 edge. Stefan Markovic nailed an off-balance shot, which an unstoppable Ukic erased with foul shots. Nemanja Gordic hit a triple, but Vladimir Golubovic countered with a jump hook and Ryan Toolson kept the hosts within 17-19. Ukic scored again and a coast-to-coast layup by Gordic caused Unicaja to call timeout at 17-23. Toolson sank a three-pointer and a put-back layup by Golubovic kept the hosts within 22-23 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Toolson puts Unicaja ahead
Toolson sank a mid-ranger jumper early in the quarter and Golubovic added a layup-plus-foul for a 27-23 Unicaja lead, after a 10-0 run. Bilan and Golubovic traded baskets and another floating layup by Ukic kept Cedevita within 29-27. Caleb Green split foul shots. A jump hook by Bilan made it a 1-point game. Green found space for an uncontested three-pointer and a jumper by Toolson gave Unicaja fresh air at 35-29. Ivan Ramljak scored around the basket, before Jayson Granger split free throws. A big triple by Tomislav Zubcic brought Cedevita within 36-34. Gordic and Kuzminskas exchanged baskets and a three-pointer by Toolson restored a 41-36 Unicaja margin. Fran Vazquez split free throws and a three-point play by Marko Arapovic allowed Cedevita to stay within 42-39. Kuzminskas hit free throws, but a buzzer-beating layup by Arapovic fixed the halftime score at 44-41.
Third quarter: Hosts keep slim edge
Vazquez and Bilan exchanged free throws immediately after the break. Bilan kept leading Cedevita with a put-back basket and a jumper by Gordic restored a 46-47 Cedevita edge. Carlos Suarez struck from downtown and bettered Mario Delas's baseline jumper with another one from beyond the arc to ignite the crowd at 52-49. Toolson joined the three-point shootout, as Unicaja kept the guests scoreless for more than three minutes. Ramljak tried to change things with a driving layup and Bilan sank a mid-range jumper to keep Cedevita close at 55-53. Markovic rescued Unicaja with a three-pointer, which Ramljak quickly answered from downtown. Free throws by Ukic tied the game at 58-58. Vasileiadis made 4 free throws and a layup by Golubovic boosted Unicaja's lead to 64-60. Arapovic nailed a three-pointer, but Golubovic scored again for a 66-63 Unicaja edge.
Fourth quarter: Defense seals the win for Unicaja
Gordic fed Arapovic for a two-handed dunk early in the quarter. Kuzminskas scored in the low post, but Bilan nailed a running hook to make it 68-67. Vazquez fed Kuzminskas for a two-handed slam, as Unicaja started to play with more intensity on defense. Cedevita could not find answers on offense and Unicaja kept using long possessions and powering the offensive glass. Meanwhile, Jayson Granger shined with a driving layup, which caused the guests to call timeout at 72-67. Bilan hit a jump hook, but Suarez erased it with a two-handed slam. Ramljak and Toolson traded baskets, however Unicaja kept dominating the game with outstanding defense, not allowing easy shots. Meanwhile, a wild put-back layup by Kuzminskas sealed the outcome at 78-71. Toolson made free throws and even though Cedevita kept trying, Unicaja cruised to its fourth win in Group C.
Friday, November 21, 2014