Defense lifts ASVEL to win in Piraeus
LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne gave its best defensive effort of the season and snapped a four-game winning streak to stun Olympiacos Piraeus for a 63-69 road win on Friday night. ASVEL improved to 6-13, while Olympiacos dropped to 10-9, having its three-game winning streak snapped. ASVEL took the lead for good late in the second quarter, then allowed just 9 points in the third. A 4-14 run bridging third and fourth quarter gave the visitors a 12-point lead, and ASVEL never lost control of the game after that. Guerschon Yabusele was the only ASVEL player in double figures with 19 points, while Aaron Harrison scored 13 for Olympiacos. Shaquielle McKissic scored 11, and Vassilis Spanoulis finished with 10 in a losing effort.
Derrick Walton Jr. hit a triple and Norris Cole nailed a baseline jumper for the visitors early on, but McKissic answered with 5 points, including a three-pointer assisted by Kostas Sloukas, sparking a 9-0 run that put the Reds up 12-5. Sloukas had 6 assists in the first 8 minutes, but went to the bench with two personal fouls. ASVEL did not hesitate to answer back with a 2-9 run, with David Lighty displaying his soft touch for a pair of buckets, tying things up at 14-14. Vezenkov and Matthew Strazel traded triples to make it 17-17 after 10 minutes. Aaron Harrison hit one from downtown to open the second quarter, but Antoine Diot had a three-pointer of his own on the other end before Yabusele strung together 8 points, including a three-point play and a triple, to give ASVEL a 24-28 advantage. Spanoulis had a three to help the hosts briefly regain the lead, but Cole knocked down a triple on the other end before serving a perfect pass for a Charles Kahudi fastbreak dunk as ASVEL held a 33-34 halftime lead.
Sloukas returned to the floor, but baskets were few and far between. ASVEL big man Moustapha Fall had a dunk before McKissic hit a triple, the Reds' only basket in the first 5 minutes of the quarter. A second-chance triple from Yabusele opened 36-40 midway through the third quarter, then he got a favorable roll around the rim on another three-point shot that made it 38-45. The hosts were kept scoreless for more than 3 minutes before Vezenkov's put-back, but Kahudi nailed a triple that helped extend it to 40-49. Strazel opened the final stanza with a three-pointer that opened 42-54 lead, but McKissic answered with a triple and Spanoulis drove for a layup to cap a 7-0 run in only 60 seconds that got Olympiacos right back in it. But after the timeout, the visitors went back to making all the stops, holding Olympiacos without a field goal for more than 5 minutes. The hosts did get to the free throw line twice, but Yabusele scored inside twice to keep ASVEL in front, and Cole hit from long range before Fall's dunk made it 53-63. Spanoulis hit a transition triple to keep Olympiacos hopes alive, but the visitors avoided full-court pressure to find Fall for an easy dunk that saw ASVEL take an 8-point lead into the final minute. Sloukas scored his first basket of the night, but it was too little too late as ASVEL closed out the game.
Key third quarter
ASVEL allowed only 9 points in the third quarter, and forced 8 turnovers. Olympiacos attempted only 9 field goals in that quarter.
Teenager Matthew Strazel played an important role for ASVEL, scoring 8 points and knocking down both his three-point attempts after shooting just 2-for-14 from long range entering this game. Norris Cole also scored 8 points, while Derrick Walton Jr. and David Lighty each had 9 to give the ASVEL offense more balance.
Kept in check
Kostas Sloukas has been Olympiacos’s driving force in recent weeks, but not this time. He dished 6 assists in the first 8 minutes, then went to the bench with 2 personal fouls. He never regained rhythm and finished with just 2 points, 7 assists and 4 turnovers.
In the first quarter, each team made an identical 4 of 6 for two, 2 of 6 for three, and 3 of 5 free throws, each had 2 turnovers, no steals and no offensive rebounds.
The two teams play each other again on Tuesday, as ASVEL will host their rescheduled Round 10 game.
Friday, January 15, 2021