Unicaja Malaga cruises past Sassari
Unicaja Malaga snapped a two-game road losing streak by knocking off Dinamo Banco di Sardegna Sassari 65-77 in Group D. Jamar Smith led the way for Unicaja with 20 points and Richard Hendrix added 16 points and 7 rebounds as Unicaja improved to 7-2 and remained alive to take first place in the group. Mindaugas Kuzminskas chipped in 14 points and 5 rebounds and Stefan Markovic had 7 points and 4 assists. Sassari is still looking for its first Euroleague victory of the season, dropping to 0-9 despite Joe Alexander’s 19 points. Jarvis Varnado collected 16 points and 5 rebounds and Marquez Haynes had 13 points and 6 assists in the losing effort.
First quarter: Smith three-pointers get Unicaja going
Sassari coach Marco Calvani made two changes to his line-up with David Logan and Alexander playing for Mattero Formenti and Brian Sacchetti alongside Haynes, Christian Eyenga and Varnado. Unicaja boss Joan Plaza left Kuzminskas and Fran Vazquez on the bench in favor of Dani Diez and Hendrix with Edwin Jackson, Nemanja Nedovic and Carlos Suarez. Logan started the game with a layup and Jackson got the guests on the board with a three-pointer from the left wing. The lead switched hands the next three scores with Eyenga making it 6-5 with a layup. It was 8-5 after Varnado free throws. While Nedovic, Jackson and Hendrix scored for Unicaja, Varnado continued his strong first quarter with a dunk off an offensive rebound, a jumper and a reverse layup for a 14-11 advantage. Alexander nailed his first three to increase the cushion to 17-11. Hendrix answered with a dunk and reverse layup, which Alexander answered with another three for a 20-15 lead. Smith came off the bench for Unicaja and nailed a pair of triples on either side of Markovic free throws to put the road team ahead 20-23. Alexander followed with another three to knot the game, but Kuzminskas knocked down a triple of his own to put Unicaja ahead 23-26 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Three-pointers, Hendrix too much for Sassari
Varnado started the second quarter with a driving hook shot to get Sassari to within 1 point. But Smith drained a three from the right side for Unicaja. After an Eyenga jumper, Smith hit a jumper of his own and Markovic followed with a three-pointer to push the cushion to 7. New Unicaja signing Jack Cooley scored his first points in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague with a layup inside for a 27-36 cushion. Haynes was able to knock down a pair of three-pointers to pull Sassari to within 35-38. But Markovic free throws and a layup from Diez after a nice pass from Will Thomas had the lead up to 35-42. After a timeout, Formenti trimmed the deficit to 5, but Hendrix put a nice spin move on Alexander for a layup and then put back an offensive rebound and the margin was 37-46. Sacchetti and Smith swapped foul shots and Unicaja was ahead 39-48 at intermission.
Third quarter: Unicaja pushes lead to 18 points
Sassari sputtered offensively to start the second half while Hendrix put in a hook after an offensive rebound, Smith nailed a jumper and Suarez drained a triple from the right wing as the lead swelled to 39-55. Sassari finally got on the scoring board with a Varnado dunk. But Sassari coach Calvani needed a time out after a Kuzminskas three-pointer from the right side which made it 41-58. After a Eyenga lay-up, Kuzminskas dunked over Alexander with an and-one to increase the lead to 18 points - 43-61. Two fouls shots by Jackson had the margin at 45-63 before Alexander hit two layups and Haynes made foul shots to get Sassari within 51-63.
Fourth quarter: Unicaja’s 2-9 surge finishes off home team
Varnado started the fourth with a basket to get the gap down to 10 points. But Alberto Diaz got a layup to go in and Smith nailed a three-pointer late in the shot clock to push the lead to 53-68. After Varnado foul shots, Thomas and Kuzminskas both put back offensive rebounds and the advantage was back out to 17 points. Alexander got a turnaround jumper to fall and then Haynes knocked down a three-pointer and the cushion was down to 60-72. Kuzminskas followed with three foul shots before Giacomo Devecchi nailed a three and Alexander hit free throws to get the deficit to 65-75 with less than two minutes to play. But Smith nailed a jumper and it was decided.
Thursday, December 10, 2015