Zalgiris on Top 16 doorstep after downing Karsiyaka 74-52
It was all Zalgiris Kaunas almost all night on Wednesday as the hosts never let Pinar Karsiyaka Izmir up for air in a 74-52 victory that moved them to the doorstep of a Top 16 qualification. Zalgiris improved its record to 4-4 in Group C and can clinch a Top 16 spot on Friday if Stelmet Zielona Gora (1-6) loses at Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar or if Panathinaikos (3-4) defeats visiting FC Barcelona Lassa (6-1). A 12-1 second-quarter run broke the game open for Zalgiris. After that, Karsiyaka was able to push the deficit below 10 points just briefly in the second half. Mantas Kalnietis led the winners with 17 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Brock Motum followed with 12 points and 8 rebounds, while Lukas Lekavicius came off the bench for 11 points, including 3 of his team's 11 three-pointers. Karsiyaka, which got 13 points from Justin Carter, could not get back in the game due to 1-for-16 three-point and 9-for-22 free-throw shooting. Juan Palacios added 11 points and Colton Iverson 10 for Karsiyaka, whose record falls to 2-6 and its fate now depends on other teams.
First quarter: Zalgiris warms up from the arc
Paulius Jankunas hit 2 perfect free throws to get the Zalgiris scoreboard rolling. Carter swished an open three-pointer for Karsiyaka's first lead, then went to the foul line to boost it to 2-5. Carter kept it going with a spinning layup, but Edgaras Ulanovas responded with the home team's first triple and Jankunas followed with the second to put Zalgiris back in front, 8-7. Iverson and Renaldas Seibutis traded baskets before Kalnietis made another shot from the arc for Zalgiris. Ian Vougioukas joined the hosts' scoring column to make it 15-9. After a timeout, Karsiyaka came out running, with Kenan Sipahi connecting with Kenny Gabriel for an alley-oop slam and then Carter feeding Iverson for another dunk on the break. Now, Zalgiris needed the timeout, after which Lekavicius boarded his team's three-point train to make it 18-13. Palacios came on and hit 1 of 2 free throws for Karsiyaka, but then Olivier Hanlan banked in a runner and Motum saved a fastbreak on the buzzer to make it 22-14 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Zalgiris defense leads the way
Gabriel opened the second quarter with a jumper and blocked a Lekavicius three-point try. Soner Senturk saved a Karsiyaka possession with a two-pointer on the shot clock, but so did Robertas Javtokas for Zalgiris with a put-back at 24-18. Motum came up with a nifty shot switching hands in mid-air, but Iverson matched it on a second-chance basket at the other end. Zalgiris went back to the three-point line and this time Renaldas Seibutis was on the mark from the corner to make it 29-20. Out of a timeout, Hanlan broke loose for a fastbreak layup for the game's first double-digit lead, 31-20. Next, Kalnietis found Vougioukas for a jump hook in the paint before Seibutis lined up another triple, but couldn't complete a four-point play at the foul line for his team's sole miss there all night. Carter hit just 1 of 4 free throw tries next, allowing Kalnietis to dance through the lane to a 38-21 lead. Carter finished a fastbreak for the visitors, ending their nearly seven-minute stretch with no baskets. Lekavicius buried a runner to make it 40-23 but Kerem Gonlum got it back with a turnaround jumper on the buzzer to end the half 40-25.
Third quarter: Karsiyaka hangs in there
Sipahi drove for an easy layup to open the second half for Karsiyaka while Jankunas answered with a two-pointer inside. When Lekavicius lined up another open triple, the hosts had their biggest lead yet, 45-27. Iverson rallied Karsiyaka with a turnaround jumper and a running hook off his own offensive rebound. When Carter stole and slammed, it was suddenly 45-33. Palacios popped a mid-range jumper to cut the difference to 10 points for the guests, but Vougioukas boosted it back up with a tough basket and added free throw at 48-35. Carter hit 1 of 2 free throws before Zalgiris went deep again, this time with Kalnietis pulling the trigger. Muhammed Baygul got a nifty layup to drop for Karsiyaka. Carter missed his sixth free throw out of 10 and Kalnietis took advantage with a baseline jumper at 53-38. After a timeout, Palacios drove for a fade-away in the lane, plus the free throw that came with it, to leave a 53-41 scoreboard after 30 minutes.
Fourth quarter: Kalnietis turns back Karsiyaka comeback try
Palacios lowered the difference to 10 again as Palacios sank a baseline jumper to open the fourth quarter. Baygul made 1 of 2 free throws as the difference dropped to single digits for the first time in more than 15 minutes, 53-44. Jankunas fed Motum for an easy basket to revive Zalgiris, but Palacios answered with a lane jumper. Kalnietis followed with a steal and fastbreak finish. Then Lekavicius buried his third triple as the lead soared to 60-46. Senturk scored a basket for the visitors that Kalnietis answered on the run with a fastbreak finish. Then he lined up a transition three-pointer, Zalgiris's 10th, to make it 65-48 and force a Karsiyaka timeout. Motum added to the Zalgiris lead from the paint, while Palacios made the first of his 6 free throws until then. Hanlan busted a triple for Zalgiris to make it 70-49 before Sipahi converted a three-point play at 70-52. Motum buried a long two-pointer as the Zalgiris fans began celebrating a big win that could mean a Top 16 qualification before the week is over.
Wednesday, December 2, 2015