Le Mans finished its Eurocup season with an impressive 79-75 win over Aris BSA 2003 behind very strong efforts from Marc Salyers and Atoine Diot. Le Mans, which had been mathematically eliminated from reaching the Quarterfinals prior to the game, finished last in Group I with a 2-4 record. However the loss for Aris meant it finished second in the group at 3-3 and lost a chance for home-court advantage in the quarterfinals. Aris will now face Group J winner Power Electronics Valencia in the next round. The game featured countless lead changes and was close throughout. It was tied at 59-59 in the closing seconds of the third quarter before a Diot free throw gave the hosts a slim lead entering the fourth. Salyers opened the deciding quarter with a triple and Le Mans held the lead the rest fo the way, despite Aris’s best efforts. Salyers finished with 25 points and 8 rebounds, while Diot had 18 points, 4 assists and 3 steals. Maleye Ndoye was worth 12 points for the winners. Keydren Clark led Aris with 18 points, Jeremy Richardson added 14 points and 11 rebounds and Aaron Miles and Matt Walsh scored 10 each. Miles also dished 7 assists in the losing effort.
Le Mans started well with baskets from Salyers and Ndoye. Aaron Miles came through with a three for Aris, but a Salyers three made it 9-3. Aris went inside to Andy Betts and Michailis Kakiouzis to narrow the gap. Back-to-back threes by Salyers and Diot made it 15-8. Clark and Diot traded threes before Aris found its stride. Betts scored inside and Richardson and Clark sank back-to-back threes to put Aris up 18-19. Richardson capped a 0-10 run, but Diot and free throws from Thierry Ruport tied the score. Clark beat the buzzer to make it 22-24 after 10 minutes. Salyers continued his strong night by pushing Le Mans back ahead, but Walsh got involved with a triple. The lead switched hands again as J.P. Batista scored inside and Walsh connected from downtown again. Richardson drilled another three only to see Salyers tie the game at 33-33 and then sink 2 more free throws to put Le Mans on top. Miles scored twice to tie the game and give Aris a slim lead, but Ndoye’s tip-in made it 37-37 at the break.
The hectic back-and-forth pace that defined the first half continued into the second. Richardson scored first before Salyers reached 10 points and put Le Mans on top. Walsh struck from downtown, but Ndoye evened the score at 42-42. It was tied again at 44-44 and 47-47 before Diot put the hosts up with a three and Richardson matched him. Dimos Dikoudis’s slam made it 50-54, however Charles Kahudi’s efforts inside coupled with Diot’s resulted in 6 straight Le Mans points. A Clark triple put Aris ahead, but Zach Wright converted a three-point-play at the other end and Clark tied the game at 59-59. Diot made a free throw to give the hosts a slim lead entering the fourth quarter. Salyers added a triple to his tally, Kahudi scored inside and Dee Spencer finally scored his first basket as Le Mans jumped to a 67-59 lead. Aris came right back through Clark and Betts to get within 2 points. Le Mans got the next three baskets from Batista, Salyers and Spencer, causing Aris head coach David Blatt to call timeout. Nikos Hatzivrettas responded with a three and a layup to narrow the gap to 3. Diot came through with a key steal and score, but Clark kept Aris close. Diot sank a pair of clutch free throws to keep his team ahead by two scores and Aris ran out of time, settling for a narrow loss.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010