Chris McGuthrie was back and with a great third period Ricoh Astronauts of Amsterdam was too on Tuesday, winning its first home game 86-71 over Cholet to jump past the French guests in the Group D standings. A 30-9 third quarter by the hosts, with McGuthrie nailing some of his 8 three-pointers, turned the game completely around. Astronauts (3-4) are now sure to share fourth place with either Charleroi and Lleida, both 3-3, after they play Thursday. Cholet falls to last place at 2-5. McGuthrie, known to his fans in Amsterday as "Mighty Mouse" was back after injury with his old heroics. Scoreless for the first 8 minutes, McGuthrie scored 34 points in the remaining 27 minutes of the game. He also was credited with 7 assists. Forward Joe Spinks was the go-to guy inside and finished with a big double-double of 18 points and 16 rebounds, while guard Ivan Tomeljak contributed 13 points and 8 assists. Cholet, which had started well before crashing in the second half, had 18 points from guard Tony Stanley, 11 from veteran Jim Bilba, and 10 each from K'Zell Wesson and Claude Marquis.
The game started with a completely different mood, as Cholet was able to earn solid double digit leads of 6-14 after 5 minutes and 8-18 shortly after. Thanks to Spinks, however, Astronauts reduced the gap to 6 points after the first quarter, 16-22. Cholet, though not able to take advantage of all its open court opportunities, confirmed its lead at halftime thanks to Marquis and Stanley's offensive contributions. Cholet was a head on the board 33-39, which must have looked good, except that McGuthrie had started to warm up. McGuthrie would stay hot into the third quarter as Astronauts rolled off 30 points in 10 minutes. An aggressive defense that would wind up with 16 steals on the night triggered the turnaround, at the same time that Astronauts protected the ball with only 11 turnovers total. Once the contribution started piling up from the perimeter, where McGuthrie scored 8 of his 16 three points attempts on the night, the combination proved too much for Cholet to hand. The big run in that third quarter KO'd Cholet, which found itself down 15 points, 63-48, at the end of 30 minutes. On the road, that was too much to be recovered in the last quarter, when the Astronauts were able to resist to all the guests' attempts to come back.
Tuesday, December 10, 2002