Zenit holds off Valencia to remain perfect on the road
Zenit St Petersburg used a huge third quarter and a big finish to beat Valencia Basket 72-85 in a rescheduled Round 4 game on Tuesday night. Zenit improved to 7-3 and remained perfect on the road with six wins from as many games, while Valencia dropped to 7-5 on the season. No team led by double digits for the first 39 minutes, but Zenit took control in the third quarter when it turned a 6-point halftime deficit into a 5-point lead going into the fourth quarter. Though Valencia got within 72-75 late in the game, Zenit never relinquished the lead and finished the game on a 0-10 run. Kevin Pangos shined with 12 points and a club-record 12 assists. Austin Hollins paced the winners with 20 points, Will Thomas and Alex Poythress added 12 apiece and Mateusz Ponitka scored 10 in the victory. Bojan Dubljevc scored 18 for the hosts and Guillem Vives netted 10 in Valencia's second straight home loss.
Zenit's offense was the first to catch a rhythm with three-pointers from Thomas and Hollins that gave Zenit an early 6-12 advantage. The hosts struggled from the outside, but attacked the basket and dominated the offensive boards. Second-chance baskets from Dubljevic and Mike Tobey helped cut it to 12-16 after 10 minutes and Sam Van Rossom scored 5 points early in the second, including a three-point play to put Valencia in front 21-20. The teams traded close-range baskets with Dubljevic pacing Valencia. Fernando San Emeterio hit a triple and Van Rossom nailed a jumper to make it 33-26. Pangos had Zenit back on track with a three-pointer and a couple of highlight-reel assists, but not before Valencia's lead got to 8 points with a floater from Martin Hermannsson and the hosts went into halftime up 39-33.
The pace picked up as both offenses got on a roll in the second half. Hollins started it with a triple and a runner before a dunk by Poythress put Zenit up 39-40. Dubljevic and Nikola Kalinic scored inside for the hosts, but Pangos had a three-point play. After Vives hit back-to-back threes for Valencia, Ponitka hit one from downtown for Zenit. Pangos fed Thomas for a dunk and Hollins nailed a triple to make it 53-55. Thomas and Dubljevic traded threes and Kalinic scored in the low post to make it 60-58. But Pangos made a triple before Arturas Gudaitis and Hollins scored fastbreak baskets to lead 60-65 after three quarters. K.C. Rivers, scoreless until that point, had a runner and an off-the-dribble triple to stretch the margin to 62-70 early in the fourth. San Emeterio with a floater and Tobey with a two-handed slam halved the deficit, but Ponitka's triple made it 66-75 entering the final 4 minutes. Valencia was not going away and hustle plays from Tobey and Kalinic cut into the deficit. Van Rossom's floater made it 72-75. But that's as close as the hosts got because Pangos made free throws and Rivers came up with a put-back layup, before a three from Hollins sealed the outcome.
Key third quarter
Zenit scored 33 points in the first two quarters and then had 32 in the third quarter alone behind Kevin Pangos running the offense and Will Thomas, Mateusz Ponitka and Austin Hollins scoring from long range.
Entering this game, Valencia had the top offense with 83.4 points per game and Zenit had the lowest-scoring offense with 73.3. But Zenit went on to score a season-high 85 points on this night, while Valencia was held below 79 points for the first time since Round 2.
Kevin Pangos set a Zenit club record for assists with 12. The previous best for a Zenit player in a single game was 10 and Pangos had 11 assists before the end of the third quarter. Zenit also tied its single-game record with 24 two-point shots made.
The last unbeaten
Zenit has a 6-0 road record and stands as the last undefeated team of any kind this season in the EuroLeague since there are no more teams with a perfect home record.
Zenit will be back in action again on Thursday when it pays a visit to Real Madrid for a Round 13 tilt, while Valencia remains at home to host Anadolu Efes Istanbul.
Tuesday, December 8, 2020