Lauretana Biella took a major step forwards to clinch a Last 16 spot in Group H by downing BK Ventspils 63-77 in Latvia on Tuesday. Lauretana ties for first place in Group H at 3-1 and could qualify with a road win against Nymburk next week. Meanwhile, Ventspils dropped to 0-4 and is mathematically out of the Last 16 race. Dominique Coleman paced the winners with 17 points. Joe Smith added 13 and 6 assists, Sven Schultze had 12 while Matteo Soragna got 10 for Biella. Janis Strelnieks had 14 points for Ventspils while Arturs Berzins added 10. Biella opened the game with a 1-9 run and found a go-to guy in Coleman to make it a seven-point game, 13-20, after 10 minutes. Smith led a 1-13 run that broke the game open, 20-35, near halftime. Biella stayed focused after the break, boosted its margin to 35-59 late in the third quarter and stayed out of trouble all the way until the final buzzer.
Ronalds Zakis got Ventspils going with free throws but Smith and Coleman struck from downtown in a 1-9 run that gave Biella a six-point lead, 3-9. Smith sank his second triple but Aaron Pettway and Berzins kept Ventspils within 6-12. The hosts struggled to make outside shots and tried to power the offensive board to find second-chance points. Berzins and Kieron Achara traded triples and a put-back layup by Bertans got the hosts as close as 11-15. Coleman scored inside and Matteo Soragna added a jumper to give Biella a seven-point lead, 13-20, after 10 minutes. Achara hit foul shots early in the second quarter but Ernests Kalve and Sandis Buskevics fueled a 6-0 run that brought Ventspils back to life at 19-22. It didn't last long, however, as Soragna followed a triple with a layup. Smith soon gave Biella its first double-digit lead at 19-29. Coleman kept pacing the guests with free throws and a layup and Smith scored again to break the game open, 20-35, after a 1-13 run. Janis Strelnieks downed a three-pointer and Bertans soon struck from downtown but only managed to get Ventspils within 27-40. A free throw by Arturs Strelnieks and a layup by Luca Garri fixed the halftime score at 28-42.
Achara scored down low and Smith nailed a three-pointer for a 28-47 Biella lead immediately after the break. Pettway hit free throws that Coleman erased with a layup. A jumper by Schultze soon made Ventspils call timeout at 30-51. Coleman scored again and even when Zakis and Buskevic combined for 5 quick points, they only managed to get the hosts within 35-53. Pervis Pasco sank a mid-range jumper and Garri scored twice to seal the outcome, 35-59, late in the third quarter. Pettway dunked it and Janis Strelnieks added free throws but Biella kept full control of the game, leading 42-63 after 30 minutes. Biella kept going early in the fourth quarter, as Coleman dunked it and Schultze downed a three-pointer for a 44-68 score. Pettway and Janis Strelnieks kept trying to change things for Ventspils but everything was said and done already, as the hosts rallied once the outcome was clear. Biella had cruised to a well-deserved road win that keeps the team in the race for a Last 16 spot. Meanwhile, Ventspils will try to leave the 2009-10 Eurocup by trying to steal at least one win in its two remaining games.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009