Group F leader Lietuvos Rytas lost the first quarter big but left little room for doubt after that, storming to a 62-79 road win at Le Mans in France on Tuesday. L. Rytas is now 3-0 and alone in first place with two of its last three games at home. Le Mans dropped to 0-3 and will have to win or risk immediate elimination in the second half of the regular season. Le Mans led 22-17 early in the second quarter, but from then until the end of the third, L. Rytas dominated by 17-45 to put the outcome in its pocket. Steponas Babrauskas made 4 of 6 three-pointers on his way to 15 points for the winners. Tyrese Rice and Renaldas Siebutis added 12 each. Lawrence Roberts had 9 and 15 rebounds, helping the visitors dominate the boards by 27-39. For Le Mans, Alex Acker scored 17 points, all but 3 in the final 7 minutes, however, after the game was decided. Marcus Sommerville and Joao Batista added 11 each for the hosts.
L. Rytas worked the inside for an early 2-6 lead highlighted by a dunk from Jonas Valanciunas. Le Mans went inside, too, for its 10-0 answering run as Batista and Charles Kahudi split all those points. Roberts and Arturas Jomantas closed the gap to 12-10 for L. Rytas but that's when Taylor Rochestie nailed the game's first triple for Le Mans. With almost 3 minutes of shutout defense, to boot, Le Mans used William Coleman's layup on the buzzer for a solid 20-12 lead after 10 minutes. Turnaround time came quick in the second quarter as Babrauskas rattled off 5 quick points and Siebutis 3 more to make it 22-21. After Rochestie hit a layup for Le Mans, Babrauskas busted his second and third three-pointers in 4 minutes for a 24-27 L. Rytas lead. Kahudi and Batista quickly seized back the advantage again for Le Mans, but the visitors were feeling it now. Aleksandar Rasic and Predrag Samardziski split all the points in a 2-9 finishing run as L. Rytas made its move for a 32-28 halftime lead.
The L. Rytas defense continued to dominate as Rasic and Siebutis boosted the lead to 35-44 after halftime. Somerville was the only player who scored for Le Mans during 5 minutes, making 7 points himself, but the home team still trailed by double digits, 39-49, when Siebutis struck from the three-point arc. That shot unleashed a 0-16 onslaught by the visitors that included another Siebutis triple, one by Roberts, and 4 points from Rice to make it an astounding 39-62 after 30 minutes. The L. Rytas defense had held Le Mans to just 17 points in the previous 17 minutes. The beat continued into the final quarter, with a basket by Sommerville, still the only Le Mans player to score in the second half, until Rochestie made it 43-63 on a layup. L. Rytas answered with another three-pointer by Babrauskas, his fourth. When Mindaugas Katelynas joined him and Rice added a layup, the visitors not only had their highest lead, 50-74, but a clear path to victory and a stranglehold on first place in Group F.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011