Benetton took an important step towards claiming a spot in the Top 16 from Group C by downing Pau-Orthez 73-86 on the road in France on Thursday night. Benetton improved to 4-2 and is now third in the Group C standings, while Pau dropped to 3-3 and shares the fourth spot with Aris TT Bank. Marco Mordente led the winners with 21 points on 5-of-6 three-pointers. Terrell Lyday added 16, Spencer Nelson posted a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds, Marcus Goree had 12 points and Matteo Soragna 10 for Benetton. Michael Wright had 18 points for Pau, Britton Johnsen added 12 and Ricardo Greer 11. Pau led the game in the early going, but a 0-10 run in which Lyday scored twice from downtown allowed Benetton to get a 14-18 edge after 10 minutes. Lyday and an outstanding Mordente helped Benetton to stay ahead, 34-39, at halftime. Pau stayed in the game, as Johnsen and Wright helped the hosts to get within 59-62 early in the final period. Lyday and Goree fueled a 0-10 run which broke the game midway through the fourth quarter, allowing Benetton to add its first road win of the season.
Nikos Zisis fed Lyday for a fast break layup to open the scoring. Thierry Rupert answered with a tip-in to get Pau on the scoreboard. Goree found a layup in transition, as Pau, with C.C. Harrison at point guard, tried to play an up-tempo offensive game in the early going. He scored in the paint, while an active Rupert followed with a mid-range jumper and a dunk for an 8-4 Pau edge. Harrison capped an 8-0 run with a fast break layup, causing Benetton coach David Blatt to call timeout at 10-4. Mordente came off the bench and immediately hit a triple, as the visitors adjusted their man-to-man defense. Even with that, Ian Mahinmi scored inside and Greer added a floater to keep Pau ahead 14-8. Mordente shined with a fast break layup, and Lyday buried back-to-back threes as part of 0-10 Benetton run, which Nelson capped with a basket underneath, good for a 14-18 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Greer led Pau early in the second quarter, as he followed a layup with a nice dunk to tie it at 18-18. Angelo Gigli rescued Benetton with free throws and Mordente added a corner triple to keep Benetton ahead, 18-23. Greer paced Pau with free throws, which Zisis erased with a quick layup. Johnsen stepped up with a layup on a third-chance Pau offense. Lyday fired in his third triple, but Wright scored in the low post and soon added a free throw to get Pau within 25-27. Goree hit one from downtown, forcing a Pau timeout at 25-30. Mordente buried his third triple and Nelson made consecutive baskets to give Benetton its first double-digit lead, 27-37. Johnsen tried to change things with a three-pointer and a fast break dunk, but Lyday hit free throws to keep Benetton ahead, 32-39. More foul shots from Aaron Miles brought Pau within 34-39 at halftime.
Pau returned more focused after the break and Greer got the crowd involved with a big layup-plus-foul. Soragna stepped up for Benetton with a jumper, which Harrison erased with a quick layup to get Pau within 39-41. Benetton kept attacking the basket, but Miles buried a triple to get the hosts even closer, 42-43. Soragna quickly answered with consecutive bombs from downtown, while Nelson was virtually everywhere at both ends now. Pau looked for Johnsen and Wright now, but a driving layup by Mordente and a big dunk by Gigli made the hosts call timeout at 46-53. Wright tried to get Pau going with a close basket, which Johnsen followed with free throws. Mordente fell down, got up and buried an incredible triple and then scored off a midcourt steal for a 50-58 Benetton lead. Wright found space for a layup but Mordente answered from downtown. Xane D'Almeida beat the buzzer with a triple to make it a 6-point game, 55-61, after 30 minutes.
Wright tried to ignit the Pau comeback with a layup, as the hosts tried a 2-3 zone defense. Johnsen scored in penetration to get Pau within striking distance, 59-62. Benetton was limited to just one point in almost 3 minutes, until Nelson stepped up with a put-back layup, which Zisis followed with a fast break basket, causing Pau to call timeout at 59-66. Goree shined with a layup-plus-foul, while Lyday capped a game-breaking 0-10 run which a big triple from the left wing. Mahinmi quickly answered with a power layup, but Zisis buried another one from downtown to make it a 14-point game, 61-75, with more than 4 minutes to go. Pau never gave up, but turnovers and quick shots did not help the hosts to get back in the game. Benetton started to use long possessions and kept full control of the game until the final buzzer to add a big road win to its resume.
Thursday, November 30, 2006