Former ULEB Cup champion Lietuvos Rytas retained its share of first place in Group A with a thrilling 101-107 overtime victory on the road at SLUC Nancy in France on Tuesday. L. Rytas is now 2-0 and tied with Gran Canaria in first place of Group A. Nancy fell to 1-1. L. Rytas saw its 15-point lead with less than 4 minutes remaining in regulation time evaporate under an 11-0 Nancy finish, but regained momentum behind Tomas Delininkaitis to prevail in overtime. Roberts Stelmahers buried 6 of 8 three-pointers and led the winners with 18 points. Andrius Slezas added 16 and Delininkaitis 12, all but 2 of them in overtime. Joao Batista and Mindaugas Lukauskis chipped in 11 each and Matt Nielson 10. For Nancy, Daniel McClintock was near-perfect, making 9 of 10 two-pointers and 6 of 7 free throws for 24 points. Tariq Kirksay had a double-double of 20 points and 14 rebounds. Cedrick Banks added 18 points, Cyril Julian and John Linehan 14 each.
Although Andre Emmett got L. Rytas on the board first, Julian's three-point play and Daniel McClintock's layup shot Nancy in front before Kirksay made it 7-4 with his first basket. Julian and McClintock soon upped it to 11-6 before Stelmahers and Joao Batista hit back-to-back triples to seize the lead for L. Rytas. McClintock took it back, but Stelmahers was far from done, stepping up for 2 more triples in a row, although John Linehan hit his own for Nancy in between. McClintock was able to tie again, 18-18, but L. Rytas was on fire still, as Mindaugas Lukauskas, Batista and Emmett, with two layups, pushed the guests ahead 21-26 after 10 minutes. When Lukauskas opened the second quarter with a triple and soon after a layup, L. Rytas had its first double-digit advantage, 23-33. Andrius Slezas and Emmett soon added a 0-7 run to the tally before Stelmahers returned with his fourth strike from the arc, supplying a 27-43 lead halfway through the second quarter. Nancy had to react and did so through Julian and Aurelien Salmon, but Nielsen kept L. Rytas well ahead and Slezas fired in a final triple of the half as the guests took a 37-50 advantage to the lockers.
The L. Rytas lead reached a high of 39-55 early in the second half when Marijonas Petravicius hit his second layup in a row, but things were far from over. McClintock started Nancy's resurgence with 6 consecutive points before Kirksay's layup and a Banks triple cut the difference all the way down to 50-57. Batista and Slezas saved L. Rytas for the moment with all points in a 0-7 response that made it 50-64. Even though both teams kept firing away, that difference held at the end of three quarters, 60-74. McClintock remained Nancy's big gun early in the fourth, but when Nielsen hit back-to-back shots inside, L. Rytas was still in charge at 65-80 with 7 minutes left. The same pace and difference still held, with a Slezas layup making it 71-85 a couple minutes later and Emmett's triple restoring a 15-point margin, 73-88, with 4 minutes left. They were a long 4 minutes for the guests. Julian, Kirksay and Linehan made a 6-0 run for the hosts. It was modest enough, but after Emmett's layup left the score at 79-80, it was all Nancy. Julian's three-point play started an 11-0 run that closed out the quarter as Banks drilled a three-pointer to tie, 90-90, and send the game to OT.
In overtime, the veteran know-how of L. Rytas proved decisive. Delininkaitis saved the lead with a free throw before he and Stelmahers drilled consecutive free throws to reestablish a 92-97 cushion for the visitors. Delininkaitis soon shot 4 free throws and added a layup to make it 98-105. The visitors could hardly relax, however, as Deron Hayes popped a triple in the last minute. But that was Nancy's last gasp as Lukauskas finished the scoring and Lietuvos Rytas took home a valuable Group A road win.
Tuesday, November 7, 2006