Rytas gets pivotal home win
Rytas Vilnius survived a tough test in Group B by downing Limoges CSP 92-78 in the Lithuanian capital on Wednesday. Rytas improved to 3-4 in the standings, while Limoges dropped to 2-5. Limoges, however, will have the tiebreak advantage between both teams due to its 19-point home win in Round 2. Pako Cruz led the winners with 22 points, Arnas Butkevicius and Martynas Echodas each added 11 while Cameron Bairstow had 10 for Rytas. Vincent Sanford paced Limoges with 20 points, Semaj Christon added 17 points plus 12 assists, Brian Conklin scored 13 points, Hugo Invernizzi 12 and Anthony Brown 11. Cruz and Echodas combined for 15 points in the opening 7 minutes in staking Rytas to a 21-13 margin after 10 minutes. Back-to-back triples by Deividas Sirvydis boosted the hosts' lead to 39-26, but Brown and an unstoppable Invernizzi fueled a 0-10 run to bring Limoges within 39-36. Cruz led a 10-0 run that Bairstow capped with a jumper for a 48-36 Rytas margin right after the break. Brown and Christon managed to rally Limoges within 53-51, but Butkevicius and Eimantas Bendzius helped Rytas restore a 66-60 edge after 30 minutes. The visitors made it 68-67 only to see Cruz, Mindaugas Girdziunas and Butkevicius seal the outcome for Rishon at 81-70, long before the final buzzer.
Echodas got Rytas going with a dunk and Bairstow added a layup for a 4-0 lead. Invernizzi hit a mid-range jumper, but Cruz and Echodas boosted the hosts' edge to 8-2. Christon scored in penetration and Conklin followed a dunk with a layup to bring Limoges within 10-8. Conklin kept pushing the visitors with a jumper, but an unstoppable Cruz had 7 quick points to give Rytas a 17-10 margin. After Sanford struck from downtown, Dovis Bickauskis and Evaldas Kayris led the hosts to a 21-13 advantage after 10 minutes. Sanford sank a floater early in the second quarter and Atoumane Diagne added a jump hook, but back-to-back triples by Girdziunas and Bendzius made it a double-digit game, 27-17. Terrell Holloway stepped up with a driving layup, but Christon and Brown kept Limoges within 31-21. Sirvydis struck twice from beyond the arc and Cruz lifted his team to a 39-26 lead. Brown joined the three-point shootout and Invernizzi did even better with a triple and a four-point play to bring Limoges within 39-36, after a 0-10 run. Bairstow and Kayris scored down low and Cruz gave Rytas a double-digit margin, 46-36, at halftime.
Bairstow hit a jumper right after the break and Echodas added a put-back layup, but Christon and Brown kept Limoges close at 51-44. Christon stayed on fire with an acrobatic driving basket and Brown added a triple that made it 53-49. Christon scored in the low post, but three-pointers by Bendzius and Butkevicius gave Rytas fresh air at 59-53. Sanford sank a couple of jumpers and Jerry Boutsiele added a three-point play, but an outstanding Butkevicius kept Rytas in charge, 66-60, after 30 minutes. Christon nailed a three-pointer early in the fourth quarter and erased Butkevicius's layup with a wild turnaround jumper to make it 68-65. Conklin scored around the basket, but a jumper by Girdziunas and a four-point by Cruz gave the hosts a 74-67 margin with over 6 minutes left. Sanford and Bairstow exchanged three-pointers and a dunk by Butkevicius prompted Limoges to stop the game at 79-70. Kairys took over with a put-back layup, but Conklin and Sanford gave Limoges hope at 83-75 with over 2 minutes left. A three-pointer by Bendzius sealed the outcome, 86-75, as the visitors never recovered.
Arnas Butkevicius came off the bench and made the difference for Rytas with his overall aggressiveness and intensity. He finished the game with 11 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals and 4 fouls drawn for a PIR of 25.
Limoges managed to get within 68-67 early in the fourth quarter, but a jumper by Girdziunas ignited a 12-3 run highlighted but Cruz's spectacular four-point play. By the time Kayris scored around the basket, Rytas led 81-70 and the hosts managed to keep full control of the game in the final 4 minutes.
Rytas's aggressiveness was born in the free throw difference. Limoges committed 23 fouls and Rytas 20, but the hosts went to the free-throw line 31 times and the visitors took just 9 free throws. Rytas had 24 assists and Limoges 14 with 12 of them by Christon.
Did you notice?
Limoges could not get its first-ever win in Lithuanian soil. Four visits to Lithuania, four losses. Limoges had already lost twice against Zalgiris (112-100 in 1986 and 76-74 in 1995) and once before against Rytas (92-76 in 2017).
Both teams return to 7DAYS EuroCup action on Wednesday, November 20. Rytas visits Partizan NIS Belgrade in the Serbian capital and Limoges hosts Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar.
Wednesday, November 13, 2019