Virtus holds off Reyer in all-Italian clash
Virtus Segafredo Bologna got back to its winning ways by using a big start to the third quarter to down visiting Umana Reyer Venice 90-84 in an all-Italian League clash on Tuesday night. Virtus snapped its two-game losing streak to improve to 3-2, while Reyer dropped to 2-3. The teams traded blows for the majority of the first half before Virtus used a 15-3 run to open a 42-32 lead. The hosts then started the third quarter with a 14-2 run to break the game open. Reyer came back within 3 points several times, but Virtus held on. Kevin Hervey led in victory with 26 points and Milos Teodosic had 22 points and 7 assists. Isaia Cordinier added 13 points for Virtus. Michele Vitali scored a career-high 26, Austin Daye had 15 points and 7 rebounds and Mitchell Watt added 13 points in a losing effort.
Hervey hit a three-pointer for Virtus in the early going, but Vitali scored 8 consecutive points for the visitors, including a pair of triples to make it 8-10. But close-range baskets from Teodosic and Hervey put Virtus back in front and started a 14-2 run during which Hervey and Cordinier scored inside and Ty-Shon Alexander hit from long range. Tarik Phillip nailed a triple late in the first quarter for Reyer to make it 24-15.
Victor Sanders made a floater and Daye knocked down a three-pointer early in the second to trim the margin to 24-20. Cordinier had a basket-plus-foul for the hosts, but Watt scored 7 straight points, including a three-point play that put Reyer up 27-29 midway through the quarter. Hervey quickly restored Virtus's lead, and the hosts kept making defensive stops. Teodosic scored 7 points, including a turnaround triple to open a 40-31 margin, and the hosts went up by 10 before Phillip's triple and Vitali's jumper made it 45-37 at halftime.
Virtus scored the first 6 points of the third quarter, with Mam Jaiteh and Hervey scoring from close range. The hosts did not allow a basket for more than 3 minutes to open the second half, before a triple apiece from Kyle Weems and Hervey helped open a 59-39 lead. Watt snapped the drought before Vitali and Daye each had a three-pointer to halve the deficit, 61-51. Hervey snapped a 0-10 run, and Virtus took a 69-59 advantage into the fourth quarter.
Vitali and Hervey traded triples to open the fourth before Martynas Echodas fought for a put-back dunk and Jeff Brooks had a basket-plus-foul to cut it to 72-68. Teodosic had a three-point play and a floater, but Sanders had a long jumper and a three-pointer before Daye banked in a tough runner to make it 79-76. Teodosic fed Jaiteh for a layup, but Daye's tough triple with 1:39 to go cut it again to 84-81. Another assist from Teodosic set up another easy layup, this time for Hervey, and then Teodosic took it to the rim himself to seal the deal in the final minute.
Big runs paved way for Virtus
Virtus used two big runs, first late in the second quarter and another to open the third quarter to turn a small deficit into a 20-point lead and pave its way to victory. Reyer was up 27-29 with 4:40 to go in the second quarter, but Virtus scored the next 6 points to spark a 15-3 run during which made it 42-32.
Virtus pulled away to a 20-point lead at the start of the third quarter. The hosts did not allow a point for more than 3 minutes to open the second half, scoring the first 6 points of the third quarter then back-to-back triples from Kyle Weems and Kevin Hervey in a 14-2 run that opened a 59-39 margin. Reyer melted the margin, but these two runs were the key for Virtus on this night.
What's in the steals?
Virtus finished the night by forcing 20 turnovers and swiping 14 steals. It led to many transition baskets for Virtus, which thrives in those situations with Milos Teodosic running the offense. After Tuesday's game, Virtus is the season leader in steals, with 10.2 per game, and one of only three teams in the competition averaging 10 or more steals.
What makes this interesting is that after Tuesday night there have been only six games this season where a team had 13 or more steals. It is astonishing that half of those six performances belong to Virtus, which previously had 13 steals in a win over ratiopharm Ulm and a loss against Buducnost VOLI Podgorica.
Vitali's career night
A big reason why Reyer was not out of this game until the very last minute, despite being down by 20 points midway through the third quarter, was Michele Vitali. The Reyer guard was hot from the start, stringing together 8 points in the opening minutes and he continued in that manner throughout the night. Vitali stopped at 26 points, shattering his previous career-high of 12.
On the night, playing almost 32 minutes, Vitali made both of his two-point shots, knocked down 5 of 7 triples and was perfect in 7 trips to the free-throw line. He added 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals to his tally. His PIR 36 also shattered his previous best of 16 and was the best for a Reyer player in more than two years.
Tuesday, November 16, 2021