In a game between two non-qualifiers in Group F, host Le Mans found inspiration enough to take its first victory of the season 75-67 against visiting Azovmash of Ukraine on Tuesday. Both teams now have 1-4 records, but Le Mans takes over third place due to a higher margin of victory in the home wins they split. Taylor Rochestie led the winners with 18 points. Joao Paulo Batista and Alex Acker added 15 points each, Dy Boungou-Colo 14 and 9 rebounds for Le Mans, which used a 27-12 second quarter to take over. Azovmash, which had led 10-21 after 10 minutes, got 17 points from Ricky Minard, 12 from Daniel Ewing and 10 from Radoslav Rancik. Both teams are eliminated and finish their seasons next week.
Despite the fact that Le Mans owed its home fans a win, Azovmash came out stronger, with Minard's 5 points capping a 2-10 start. The visitors turned inside then, as Rancik and Hazan Rizvic detonated back-to-back dunks at 6-18. Only a late pair of baskets by Boungou-Colo and Babacar Niang let Le Mans get as close as 10-21 after 10 minutes. Boungou-Colo liked the feeling and started the second quarter dunking twice and hitting a three-pointer between to suddenly make it 19-21. He then fed Acker for a tying jumper, before Batista took the first Le Mans lead at 25-24. Azovmash charged back to lead 28-32 on free throws by Ewing before Niang resurfaced to put the hosts ahead again, 37-33 at the half.
Le Mans smelled a win and followed Rochestie's 5 points soon after the break to a double-digit advantage, 45-33. Acker maintained the big lead through the middle of the third quarter, but Minard responded with another flurry of points that let Azovmash stay as close as 58-53 after 30 minutes. Boungou-Colo and Rochestie teamed up early in the final quarter to boost the difference so that Acker could make it 10 points again, 64-56, with 5 minutes to play. That was enough to send Le Mans ahead to its first victory, both a mathematical and a moral one, as both teams will have to come back another year to pursue their Eurocup dreams.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011