Rudd, Strebkov put Nizhny way ahead
Nizhny Novgorod struck first in its all-Russian home-and-away series and greatly improved its chances to advance to the Eurocup quarterfinals by downing Zenit St. Petersburg 102-76 at CEC Nagorny on Wednesday. Nizhny got a 26-point in the two-way series, which now travels to St. Petersburg for the 2nd leg. Victor Rudd led the winners with 28 points. Ivan Strebkov added 21, Semen Antonov had 14 while Rasid Mahalbasic got 10 for Nizhny. Zab Dowdell led Zenit with 15 points. Artem Vikhrov added 14 while Janis Timma, Ryan Toolson and Pavel Antipov each had 11 for Zenit. Timma added 17 rebounds for a double-double. Rudd struck three times from downtown in a 19-2 run which allowed Nizhny to keep a 27-12 lead after 10 minutes. Rudd got plenty of help from Strebkov, who had 10 points in the second quarter, and Antonov to break the game open, 54-28. Vikhrov and Toolson brought Zenit within 56-34 at halftime. Strebkov kept pacing Nizhny after the break, hitting one shot after another. A fast break layup by Rudd made it a 33-point series, 83-50, at the end of the third quarter. Dowdell, Toolson and Timma stepped up for Zenit, cutting the guests' deficit down the stretch.
Antonov got Nizhny going with a backdoor basket which Dmitry Khvostov followed with a reverse layup for a 4-0 lead. Toolson answered with consecutive baskets but Nizhny found a go-to guy in Rudd, who nailed a couple of three-pointers in an 8-0 run that made Zenit call timeout at 12-4. Dowdell rescued the guests with a driving layup which Antonov bettered with 4-of-4 foul shots. Mahalbasic scored down low and Rudd struck again from downtown to make Zenit stop the game again at 21-6. Mahalbasic kept pacing Nizhny with a layup and Rudd bettered Anton Pushkov's close basket with another triple. Pushkov scored again and a dunk by Antipov got Zenit within 27-12 after 10 minutes. Vladimir Ivlev shined with an alleyoop layup early in the second quarter and Strebkov hit a six-meter jumper but Dowdell and Antipov brought Zenit closer, 31-18. Andrei Kirdiachkin and Antipov traded layups and a fallaway jumper by Rudd restored a 35-20 Nizhny lead. Strebkov struck twice from downtown and Evgeny Baburin also joined the three-point shootout for a 44-22 score. Andrey Koshcheev dunked but Rudd and Strebkov helped Nizhny make it a 25-point series, 49-24. Vikhrov hit a jumper and matched Antonov's foul shots with a driving layup but Rudd buried his fifth triple for a 54-28 Nizhny lead. Vikhrov made free throws and a coast-to-coast layup by Toolson made Nizhny call timeout at 54-32. Dowdell and Ivlev exchanged layups for a 56-34 score at halftime.
Pushkov hit a jump hook immediately after the break that Ivlev erased with free throws. Strebkov banked in a one-handed floater and a corner triple by Vikhrov kept Zenit within 60-39. Antonov and Timma traded baskets and another three-pointer by Strebkov restored a 65-41 Nizhny lead. Timma answered from downtown but Strebkov - who else? - did even better with a four-point play. Mahalbasic and Timma exchanged baskets and a put-back layup by Vikhrov kept Zenit within 71-48. Rudd stepped up for the hosts with a basket and a behind-the-back assist which allowed Mahalbasic to make it a 27-point series, 75-48. Strebkov nailed a six-meter shot that Dowdell matched with a layup off a Zenit timeout. Antonov downed a jump hook, Mahalbasic added a reverse layup and a fast break basket by Rudd boosted Nizhny's lead to 83-50 after 30 minutes. Timma scored in penetration early in the fourth quarter. Victor Zaryazhko made 4-of-4 free throws but Pushkov stepped up with a layup-plus-foul and Antipov added a four-point play - the second in this game - for an 87-59 Zenit deficit. Baburin downed a triple but back-to-back layups by Dowdell made Nizhny call timeout at 90-63. Kirdiachkin scored down low but a triple by Vikhrov kept Zenit within 92-66. Khvostov buried a corner three-pointer and even when Dowdell and Toolson kept pacing the guests, Nizhny kept a valuable lead until the final buzzer.
Wednesday, February 24, 2016