Mornar claims historic home win
Mornar Bar sent a message that echoed all around the 7DAYS EuroCup by downing Unicaja Malaga 90-80 at home in Group B on Tuesday. Both teams now have 1-1 records in Group B. Jacob Pullen led the winners with 24 points, Nemanja Vranjes added 16, Isaiah Whitehead tallied 12 points and 5 assists and Derek Needham scored 10 for Mornar. Dario Brizuela led Unicaja with 16 points; Deon Thompson, Alberto Diaz and Axel Bouteille each added 11 and Gal Mekel totaled 10 points and 5 assists for the visitors. Mornar led 28-22 after 10 minutes and extended its margin to 58-39 at halftime. Little changed after that as Mornar held a 71-56 margin at the end of the third quarter and cruised to a well-deserved win.
Mekel got Unicaja going with a turnaround jumper which Francis Alonso followed with a triple for a 0-5 lead. Vranjes stepped up for Mornar, but Ruben Guerrero and Thompson pushed Unicaja's lead to 5-11. Mornar found a go-to guy in Kenny Gabriel, who had 5 points in an 11-0 run that gave the hosts a 16-11 edge. Brizuela and Yannick Nzosa each scored around the basket before Diaz sank a jumper for an 18-17 score. Pullen stepped up for Mornar and got help from Taylor Smith and Milko Bjelica to put Mornar ahead, 28-22, after 10 minutes. Brizuela and Bouteille tried to change things for Unicaja early in the second quarter, bringing their team within 31-29. Bjelica took over with an up-and-under layup and Derek Needham struck twice from downtown to give Mornar fresh air at 40-33. Pullen joined the three-point shootout to make it a double-digit game, 43-33. Gabriel and Bouteille exchanged jumpers but Smith dunked and Vranjes hit three bombs from beyond the arc to break the game open, 58-39, at halftime.
Thompson followed a step-back jumper with a triple to give Unicaja hope, 58-44, soon after the break. Whitehead struck twice downtown and Gabriel swished a jumper that caused the guests to call timeout at 66-50. Pullen sank his third three-pointer and added a jumper to keep Mornar way ahead, 71-56, after 30 minutes. Diaz buried back-to-back corner triples early in the fourth quarter, but Smith and Bjelica established a 75-62 Mornar margin. Needham sank one from beyond the arc and Bjelica added a jumper that sealed the outcome, 80-64, as Unicaja could not recover in the final 4 minutes.
Vranjes was held scoreless against ratiopharm Ulm in Round 1, but bounced back to impress everyone on this night. He had 16 points and just 1 missed shot at halftime, allowing Mornar to make the difference. Vranes finished the game with 16 points on 3-of-6 three-point shooting and 7-of-7 free throws plus 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 6 fouls drawn for a game-high performance index rating of 26.
The final 5 minutes of the first half allowed Mornar to get a comfortable lead. Needham hit a couple of three-pointers, Pullen buried another and Vranjes added three more to go from 33-31 to 58-39: a 25-8 run. Unicaja never managed to get within striking distance after that.
Three-point shots and free throw accuracy allowed Mornar to get a comfortable win. Mornar converted 14 of 31 three-point shots (45.2%) and 20 of 21 free throws (95.2%). Unicaja only made 7 of 27 shots from downtown (25.9%) and 11 of 20 from the foul line (55%).
Did you know?
Mornar reached 90 points for the first time in the competition. Its previous record came against Fiat Turin in an 86-83 win on November 14, 2018. Mornar also scored 58 points in the first half to set a new EuroCup club record. Its previous record was 55 first-half points against Fiat Turin, but in a different game - on October 10, 2018.
Both teams return to 7DAYS EuroCup action on Wednesday, October 14. Mornar hosts Germani Brescia. Unicaja welcomes Buducnost VOLI Podgorica. It will be those teams' fifth EuroCup regular-season showdown since 2016.
Tuesday, October 6, 2020