The last undefeated team left in the ULEB Cup after four weeks is Crvena Zvezda thanks to its feisty 70-81 road win at Dexai Mons-Hainaut on Tuesday in Group B. After a back-and-forth game, C. Zvezda once again followed the competition's top scorer to victory as Milan Gurovic scored 7 of his game-high 24 points on free throws in the final minute that sealed the outcome. C. Zvezda moves to 4-0 with the win, while Mons falls to 1-3, joining a three-way tie for third place with Real Madrid and EiffelTowers Den Bosch. Vuk Radivojevic followed with 15 points for the winners, while Billy Thomas and Pero Antic added 13 each. For Mons, whose last lead came midway through the final quarter, George Evans was huge again with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 6 steals. Shawnta Rogers added 20 points and 7 assists, while Jim Potter scored 10 more.
After a quiet minute, Potter and Gurovic lit the fuse for their teams with a three-pointer each. His teammates copied Gurovic as first Antic and then Radivojevic drilled shots from the arc for C. Zvezda, but they were only good for a 7-9 advantage as Rogers and Evans had scored inside for Mons. C. Zvezda build on that lead as Nenad Misanovic made a free throw and dunked, but otherwise the defenses ruled for several minutes and only another free throw fell for Evans before C. Zvezda finished the quarter ahead 8-12. Monty Mack came off the bench to drill a triple for Mons early in the second, and when Rogers joined him a minute later, the hosts were ahead again, 16-15. Radivojevic got and made 3 free throws to reestablish the C. Zvezda advantage before Evans and Rogers combined to take it back at 24-20. Gurovic reemerged then with a jumper, but Mack and Rogers attacked again from the arc, making it 30-22 for Mons. C. Zvezda got the next 5 points on a dunk by Misanovic and free throws. The visitors continued making their moves with baskets by Thomas, Gurovic and Tadija Dragicevic, the latter to take back the lead, but Mathias Desaever hit free throws to keep Mons up by the minimum, 34-33, at the break.
The battle continued as Thomas opened the second half by hitting from downtown to mark the first of a flurry of lead changes. Gurovic would need a triple soon to take it back for C. Zvezda at 38-39. Evans answered that with a layup that Radivojevic erased with his own. Mons seemed to take the upper hand with the help of another triple by Potter that made it 45-41. When Kevin Houston copied him for a 52-46 advantage, the biggest of the game for Mons, Gurovic had seen enough. He struck from downtown, Thomas made a layup, Radivojevic a three-point jumper-plus-free throw and Steven Markovic another driving basket to turn the game around, 52-56, with a 0-10 run to finish the third quarter. Rogers and Evans got Mons within 56-58 early in the fourth, and after a tense couple minutes, Houston shot the hosts back in front, 59-58, with another triple. Again, C. Zvezda reloaded by getting to the line for 4 free throws before Gurovic's dunk fixed a 59-64 score. Again Mons counterpunched, as Rogers and Evans kept the hosts within a point or two until the last minute arrived with C. Zvezda clinging to a 67-69 edge. Gurovic missed his first free throw at that point, but as he and his teammates were paraded to the foul line, made the next 7 in a row to keep Mons from getting and closer and keep C. Zvezda's record perfect.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006