Zenit beats ASVEL to snap losing streak
Zenit St Petersburg turned to its defense to get back to winning, going on the road and downing LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne 61-71 on Wednesday night. Zenit snapped its three-game losing streak and improved to 9-6 on the season while ASVEL dropped to 7-8. Zenit took control of the game at the start of the third quarter, which it opened with a 2-11 run, and never relinquished the lead. Alex Poythress led all scorers with 16 points, while Jordan Loyd collected 15 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Billy Baron netted 14, and Jordan Mickey had 10 points and 7 rebounds in a victory. William Howard scored 12 and Chris Jones had 11 points for the hosts.
Mickey hit a triple and a runner to open Zenit's tally, but put-backs from Victor Wembanyama and James Gist, followed by close-range baskets from Elie Okobo and Marcos Knight, put the hosts up 10-7. Zenit's big men Poythress and Mickey put the visitors in front. Howard scored twice for the hosts, but Baron knocked down 2 three-pointers to help Zenit to 18-21 after 10 minutes.
Baskets were few and far between in the first 6 minutes of the second quarter, during which the hosts put together a 6-0 run, delivering 4 blocked shots during that stretch. Arturas Gudaitis ended Zenit's scoring drought with a pair of dunks before Baron's triple made it 26-28. After Jones scored a reverse layup, Mickey and Knight traded tough jumpers, only for Baron to drive to the basket for a buzzer-beater to give Zenit 32-33 at halftime.
Zenit opened the second half with jumpers from Dmitry Kulagin and Poythress, as the visitors scored the first 7 points of the third quarter. A triple-plus-foul from Loyd made it 34-44. Dylan Osetkowski and Howard scored from close range, but Mateusz Ponitka's triple helped keep the margin at 40-49. ASVEL responded through Jones who scored 5 points, including a basket-plus-foul to cut it to 45-50. But Loyd answered with a three-pointer and helped the visitors take a 49-54 edge into the fourth quarter.
Poythress opened the fourth quarter with a layup, but a triple from Osetkowski - ASVEL's first of the night, got the hosts within 52-56. Andrey Zubkov beat the buzzer with a second-chance layup and a dunk from Poythress made it 53-62 midway through the fourth. Okobo had a layup and he fed Gist for a dunk, but Baron knocked down a three-pointer, and Poythress followed with an easy layup for a 10-point margin, 57-67. Gist and Okobo kept ASVEL's hopes alive, but a put-back dunk from Poythress in the penultimate minute sealed the outcome.
Zenit's stellar defense
Zenit St Petersburg entered the game allowing the second-fewest points per game in the league, 72.3, and its defense showed up once again. Zenit did not allow the hosts to score more than 18 points in any of the four quarters and held LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne to 61 points for the game. Zenit held ASVEL to just 1-for-12 three-point shooting and allowed just 4 offensive rebounds. This marked the eighth time in 15 rounds that Zenit has held opponents to 70 or fewer points.
By the numbers: the three-point difference
In a low-scoring affair, Zenit's three-point shooting made all the difference. The visitors hit 8 three-point shots on 21 attempts (38.1%). Billy Baron netted 4-of-8 and Jordan Loyd made 2-of-5 three-point shots, with contributions from Mateusz Ponitka and Jordan Mickey who both made their only three-point attempt. The difference was even bigger considering that Zenit held ASVEL to just 1-of-12 three-point shooting. The only three-pointer the hosts made was from Dylan Osetkowski to open the fourth quarter after missing all 10 shots in the first three quarters.
ASVEL's record block party
ASVEL delivered a club record 10 blocked shots. It was not only the most by any team in the EuroLeague this season, but only the 13th time this century - and the first time since March 2019 - that a team reached double digits in blocks. ASVEL had 3 blocks in the first 5 minutes and 4 more blocks in the first 4 minutes of the third quarter. Five different ASVEL players had at least 1 block: Kostas Antetokounmpo and James Gist each blocked 3 shots, Victor Wembanyama had 2 rejections and Dylan Osetkowski and William Howard each had 1.
Wednesday, December 15, 2021