Nanterre uses defense to end losing streak
Nanterre 92 enjoyed a long-awaited win by beating visiting Herbalife Gran Canaria 90-74 at Maurice Thorez on Wednesday night. The hosts ended a four-game losing stripe by turning in a fine defensive effort that held the visitors to 30 second-half points. Nanterre improved to 2-4 and also took the head-to-head tiebreaker, while Gran Canaria dropped to 4-2 and will need to wait to seal its qualification to the Top 16. Chris Warren led the way for the winners with career-highs in points (25) and PIR (23), to which he also added 6 assists. He was followed by Brian Conklin, who posted 16 points and 5 rebounds, and Tyler Stone, who contributed 10. Stanley Okoye tallied 24 points, all of them in the first half, and Jacob Wiley and John Shurna scored 14 and 12 points, respectively, for the losing side.
Okoye had an impressive start with 9 points from the first three possessions to give the visitors an early 5-9 lead. Nanterre replied from inside as Alpha Kaba fueled an 8-2 run to put the hosts in front 13-11. Wiley tied it then, but right after Conklin hit twice from the free-throw line, Okoye showed up again with a layup, a couple of three-pointers and a free throw to make it 15-23. Khalifa Diop extended the lead from the line, but a late triple by Ivan Fevrier closed the first quarter with the hosts trailing 18-24. Okoye opened the second by burying another three - his fifth - and Tomas Dimsa followed him from the same place to build a double-digit lead, 18-30. The hosts didn’t surrender, though, as Stone connected from downtown and added a couple of free throws to bring Nanterre within 30-34. Beka Burjanadze came to the rescue for Gran Canaria with 6 points in a row, but Warren heated up and drilled back-to-back triples and added a fast-break layup to tie it at 40-40 after 17 minutes. Both teams swapped baskets before Stone and Conklin combined inside to push Nanterre ahead 48-44 at halftime.
Shurna connected from downtown twice to get the visitors within 51-50 right after the break, but Isaia Cordinier took over with a jumper and a three to keep Nanterre in charge, 56-50. Even though Matt Costello appeared to support the Gran Canaria’s offense, the hosts kept their good offensive momentum as a triple by Warren, followed by a nice hook shot by Damien Bouquet, raised the difference to double-digits, 64-54, midway through the third quarter. The visitors were unable to find an answer to stop Nanterre’s shooters and had also a lot of problems avoiding turnovers, so the hosts held a comfortable 73-61 margin entering the last quarter. Johnny Berhanemeskel dug it even deeper from beyond the arc and made it 76-61. Even though those were Nanterre’s only points in 4 minutes, Gran Canaria couldn’t get close as only Shurna provided points for the visitors. Stone and Conklin ruled inside to keep the visitors far away and Warren hit a jumper to make it 83-67 with less than 3 minutes to play. As such, the game turned into a battle to win the tiebreaker, which Nanterre managed to take thanks to a pair of layups by Warren that sealed the outcome at 90-74.
They got a plan
Both coach and players revealed after the game that they had a plan to win. And it was to hold Gran Canaria under 75 points, given that it was averaging 88 points per game so far. It worked, as the visitors could not score more than 17 points in the third quarter and 13 in the last one. It allowed Nanterre to overcome a 12-point deficit in the second quarter, take the win and also the tiebreaker.
The joy of scoring
Nanterre was next-to-last in scoring before this game, averaging less than 73 points per night, but it needed just three quarters to reach that mark thanks to terrific accuracy from behind the arc over the first 30 minutes (10 of 14). In the end, the hosts recorded 90, their best offensive performance so far this season.
From fireworks to blackout
Stanley Okoye displayed a terrific offensive performance in the first half. He finished with 24 points and a PIR of 29 in just 16 minutes, staying perfect from the field; he made his lone two-point shot, all 6 three-pointers and 4 free throws. But, after the break, his game was darkened by Nanterre’s defense. He did not score a point and missed all 3 of his attempts from behind the arc.
In Round 8 next week, Nanterre will hit the road to visit Dolomiti Energia Trento on Wednesday, November 18. Herbalife Gran Canaria will host Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana the same day.
Wednesday, November 11, 2020