Monaco locks up top spot in Group E
AS Monaco advanced to the 7DAYS EuroCup Quarterfinals for the second season in a row after claiming a 98-94 victory over French League foe Nanterre 92 on Tuesday at Stade Louis II. The hosts improved to 4-1 and, thanks to Unicaja Malaga's victory over Joventut Badalona later in the evening, clinched first place in Group E and home-court advantage for the quarterfinals. Dee Bost led the charge with 22 points and 5 assists, Rob Gray scored 21, Marcos Knight tallied 19 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists and Mathias Lessort added 12 points for Monaco. Isaia Cordinier led five Nanterre scorers in double figures with 23 points. Alpha Kaba scored 16 points, Chris Warren added 14, Damien Bouquet paired 12 points and 7 assists and Ivan Fevrier had 12 points and 7 rebounds. The loss dropped Nanterre to 2-3, but it can still advance to the quarterfinals with a win by at least 6 points over Joventut in Round 6.
Nanterre took control early with Brian Conklin and Cordinier dunking the visitors to a 2-10 start. Back-to-back threes by Knight and Bost revived the hosts. The same duo each scored again to complete a 10-0 Monaco run to take the lead, 12-10. The lead switched hands several more times before the end of the first quarter, which ended with Monaco ahead 24-22 on Gray's jumper. Gray shined on both ends with a blocked shot and an off-balance layup to stretch the lead to 7. A basket-plus-foul by Kaba and a triple-plus-foul by Cordinier evened things at 29-29. The teams continued to trade shots until J.J. O'Brien scored twice to make it 41-38. Free throws by Cordinier gave him 18 first-half points. A three by Gray put Monaco up 6 before a jumper by Johnnny Berhanemeskel ended the half at 46-42.
Cordinier fed Kaba for an alley-oop slam that gave Nanterre its first lead of the second half, 48-49. Knight stepped up for the hosts with a layup and a triple before finding Lessort to stretch the margin to 57-51. Lessort took charge with free throws and a put-back before a three by Gray – and assisted by Lessort – made it 64-56. Gray third three of the night gave the hosts a double-digit advantage for the first time, 70-58, in the final minute of the third quarter. Free throws by Warren and Knight made it 72-60 through three quarters. The Monaco lead reached 14 twice before Kaba and Cordinier trimmed the gap to 78-69. However, the hosts continue to score fluidly and remained comfortable in control. Nanterre made a late charge with dunks by Cordinier and Kaba and a three-pointer by Bouquet to get within 89-84 with 1:40 to play. Late free throws by Bost and Knight kept Monaco in charge even after a Fevrier three made it 94-91 with 30 seconds left. Nanterre ran out of time as Monaco enjoyed safe passage into the quarterfinals.
Marcos Knight set a EuroCup personal best with a performance index rating of 28. The combo-guard finished with 19 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists and 1 block. His 8 defensive rebounds were also a season-high. Knight only scored 5 points in the first half, but had 7 in each of the last two quarters to help Monaco take control.
Monaco dominated the paint at both ends, shooting 65.6% on two-pointers and blocking 6 shots to Nanterre's 1. The visitors were held to 52.8% on twos. Nanterre managed to outrebound Monaco 31-34, though that was in part due to its 15 offensive boards which were a product of the home team contesting so many shots.
Monaco's free throw record
Nanterre was forced to foul Monaco late in the game to stop the clock, but the hosts took advantage and made 11 free throws in the final 2 minutes. For the game, Monaco made a club record 26 free throws. The previous Monaco best was 24 against Virtus Segafredo Bologna in December 2019.
Monaco will visit Unicaja Malaga on Tuesday, March 9, looking to finish the Top 16 in form. Nanterre hosts Joventut Badalona the same evening in a do-or-die test for the second quarterfinals berth from the group.
Tuesday, March 2, 2021