Daye and defensive effort grant Reyer fifth straight win
Umana Reyer Venezia prevailed in a defensive battle to defeat visiting Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar 66-61 on Wednesday night. The home team clinched its fifth consecutive win to climb atop Group B with a 5-1 record. Lokomotiv fell to its fourth loss in a row and is now tied with Limoges CSP at the bottom of the group at 2-4. The hosts trailed 50-52 early in the fourth period when Austin Daye showed up to score 13 points in 7 minutes, more than all the Lokomotiv players in the whole quarter, to spark a 15-4 run that paralyzed Lokomotiv. Daye totaled 17 points on 3-of-4 three-point shooting. Stefano Tonut and Mitchell Watt added 10 points each, while Julyan Stone grabbed 12 boards for the winners. Will Cummings paced Lokomotiv with 11 points
Lokomotiv tried to set the tone in the early going led by Cummings, who found an open lane to the basket twice for easy layups. Reyer built a solid response through Watts, who participated in all of his team's first 12 points to keep the hosts ahead 12-11 midway through the first quarter. At the time, Johhny O’Bryant had scored 7 points in a row for the visitors. Even though Reyer took an 18-15 edge later, Alan Williams and Mantas Kalnietis combined to give the visitors an 18-20 advantage that was neutralized by 3 free throws by Bruno Cerella to close the first quarter with a 21-20 Reyer lead. Cerella kept rocking in the second quarter with an early three-pointer to extend the margin to 24-20. Even though both sides kept looking for fast-tempo basketball, defenses prevailed and the scoring slowed. Lokomotiv benefitted most from that, securing its rim extremely well from then on and keeping the hosts scoreless for the next 6 minutes. Dragan Apic finished a couple of fastbreaks and while Stanislav Ilnitskiy and Dmitry Kulagin contributed some extra points from the line to cap a 0-11 run that turned the game upside down. Watt reduced it to 30-35 at the break.
Tonut came up big after the break with a couple of baskets that energized Reyer to bring it within 35-34, but a three-point play by Apic prevented the hosts from taking back the lead. Those were the last points for Lokomotiv for 3 minutes, while Michael Bramos hit a jumper followed by free throws by Daye, a left-handed bank hook by Watt and a three by Julyan Stone that returned the lead to Reyer, 43-39, forcing a much-needed timeout by Luca Banchi midway through the third quarter. It worked fine for the visitors, who reacted with a 0-6 run that put Lokomotiv again in front, 45-47, entering the last 2 minutes. Mindaugas Kuzminskas made it 47-50 with his first points in Lokomotiv jersey before Watt closed the third quarter with another free throw to make it a 2-point game. Gasper Vidmar equaled it once again, 50-50, preceding the show by Daye. He hit twice from downtown and boosted an 8-0 run that set a 60-54 edge for his team and ignited the local fans from the stands. Lokomotiv looked stunned, unable to finish any offensive play, and when Daye scored a hook shot to make it 62-54, Lokomotiv had spent 5 minutes without a field goal. Sam Dekker ended the visitors’ drought with a basket that could have awakened his team, but a quick answer from behind the arc by Daye almost sealed the outcome, 65-56 with 2 minutes to go. Dekker hit again from downtown followed by free throws by Kalnietis to reduce it to 65-61, but it was too late for Lokomotiv already.
Defense win games
After allowing only 69 points from former Group B leader Partizan in Belgrade last week, Reyer put up another great defensive performance against Lokomotiv. The visitors scored just 26 points in the second half - and 11 in the last quarter.
Austin Daye had to leave the court after committing his fourth foul with more than 6 minutes remaining in the third quarter, having scored only 4 points so far. But when he rejoined the team on the court in the fourth quarter, he did so in great fashion. Daye scored 13 points with 3 key triples in a short span to turn the game upside down and push his team to victory.
Both teams observed a minute of silence before the tip-off because of the flooding that has taken place in Venice in recent days. Head coach De Raffaele recognized that "it was tough playing this evening" and that the atmosphere in the arena was "unreal".
In Round 8 next week, both teams will hit the road on Wednesday as Umana Reyer will visit Tofas Bursa (4-3) in Istanbul and Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar faces Limoges CSP (2-5) in France.
Wednesday, November 13, 2019