Unicaja breaks club record in road win at Nizhny
Unicaja Malaga grabbed its third win in Top 16 Group F by downing Nizhny Novgorod 75-94 on the road on Thursday. The result leaves both teams with 3-10 records and also mathematically stripped the hosts of any chance to qualify for the playoffs. Mindaugas Kuzminskas led the winners with 18 points on 4-for-4 three-point shooting. Vladimir Golubovic added 17 on 8-of-8 two-point shooting plus 8 rebounds. Jon Stefansson and Jayson Granger each scored 12 points, while Will Thomas got 10 for Unicaja, which finished the game with a performance index ranking of 130 - its best ever in the Top 16 and a club record on the road. Taylor Rochestie led Nizhny with 14 points. Gal Mekel scored 13 and Tarence Kinsey added 12 for the hosts. Unicaja shined early through an outstanding Kuzminskas, who had 8 quick points to give the guests a 5-16 lead. A backdoor layup by Thomas soon gave Unicaja a 10-27 advantage, but Rochestie brought Nizhny within 18-29 after 10 minutes. Rochestie kept pushing and found plenty of help from Art Parakhouski and Trey Thompkins to bring Nizhny within 35-38. Granger took over late in the first half to boost Unicaja's lead to 42-50 at the break. Golubovic and Stefansson stepped up for Unicaja, which improved its defense in the second half. And outstanding Golubovic helped seal the outcome, 55-81, at the end of the third quarter.
First quarter: Unicaja builds early lead
Kuzminskas got Unicaja going with a driving layup, which Golubovic followed with a close basket for a 0-4 lead. Rochestie buried his trademark jumper of the dribble to get the hosts on the board. Golubovic kept pacing Unicaja with a big basket. After Parakhouski split free throws, Jon Stefansson sank a one-handed floater. Kuzminskas struck from downtown before a five-meter jumper by Stefansson made it a double-digit game, 3-13. Rochestie hit foul shots but another triple by Kuzminskas caused Nizhny call timeout down 11. Stefan Markovic took over with a three-point play, which Semen Antonov erased with a bomb from downtown. Will Thomas buried a three-pointer, but a mid-range jumper by Thompkins kept Nizhny within 10-22. Granger joined the three-point shootout and a layup by Thomas boosted Unicaja's lead to 10-27. Rochestie and Rihards Kuksiks stepped up for Nizhny, bringing the hosts within 18-29 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Nizhny closes gap, but ranger steps up for visitors
Fran Vazquez finished a three-chance Unicaja offense by splitting free throws. Mekel scored in penetration, but Caleb Green shined with a big basket in the low post. After Parakhouski dunked, Vazquez found Ryan Toolson for a driving layup. Rochestie brought Nizhny within 10 and continued to push his team kept with an off-balance three-point play. Granger hit a one-handed floater and Toolson returned the favor, feeding Vazquez for an alley-oop slam. Mekel nailed a triple in transition to give Nizhny hope at 30-38. Thompkins struck from downtown and a layup by Mekel brought Nizhny within 3 after an 8-0 run. Vazquez and Kuzminskas made free throws to restore a 35-41 Unicaja lead. Parakhouski took over with a put-back layup and erased Stefansson's easy basket with a slam. Granger stepped up with a pair of three-pointers, but Kinsey answered from downtown to keep the hosts within 42-50 at halftime.
Third quarter: Unicaja pulls away
Thomas and Semen Antonov exchanged three-pointers immediately after the break and back-to-back jumpers by Golubovic gave Unicaja a 45-57 margin. Stefansson hit a technical free throw and added an off-balance jumper to boost the guests' margin to 45-60. A block and a steal by Kuzminskas allowed Stefanson to strike from downtown, after which Nizhny called timeout at 45-63. Kinsey tried to ignite the hosts' comeback with a three-pointer, which Kuzminskas erased at the other end. Mekel hit a mid-range jumper, but Golubovic scored in the low post. A floater by Kinsey kept Nizhny within 52-68. Carlos Suarez buried a triple and a dunk by Thomas caused Nizhny to stop the game at 52-73. Golubovic kept pushing Unicaja with a three-point play and soon added a jumper. Kuksiks and Green each buried one from beyond the arc to fix the score at 55-81.
Fourth quarter: Visitors take no prisoners in rounding out victory
Parakhouski hit a jump hook early in the quarter and a four-point play by Kinsey got the crowd involved at 61-81. Green shined with a power basket and Toolson followed that with a driving layup that sealed the outcome, 61-85, with seven minutes left. Unicaja started to use longer possessions to run the game clock down, as both teams sat out most of their starters. Evgeny Baburin buried a three-pointer and added a wild driving layup, but he didn't find much help around. Mekel sank a baseline jumper, but everything was said and done. Unicaja kept running the clock down and a one-handed slam by Vazquez allowed the guests to seal the win in style.
Thursday, April 2, 2015