Krka Novo Mesto held off a comeback by Le Mans Sarthe Basket to win 68-65 at home Tuesday evening and the enter the Last 16 on a winning note. Le Mans trailed the entire game and finally tied it at 60-60 with 4:17 left in the fourth quarter, but Krka never relinquished the lead. The hosts were led by Smiljan Pavic, who netted 13 points and Jure Balazic, who bagged 11 along with a game-leading 14 rebounds. Taylor Rochestie led Le Mans with 13 points, while Henri Kahudi and Travon Bryant added 10 apiece. Krka, which already qualified for the Last 16, closed the regular season with a 4-2 record; Le Mans finished up 1-5.
Krka opened scoring on layups by Pavic and Balazic, followed by a triple by Mustafa Hamid Abdul to take a 7-0 lead. After an exchange of two-pointers, Krka’s Zoran Dragic got on the board with a layup and foul shot, giving the hosts a 12-2 margin. Le Mans responded as both Charles Kahudi and Rochestie scored in the paint to cut the lead to 12-6. But the next 6 points belonged to Krka, as it dominated early 18-6. Back and forth scoring ensued, then Krka’s Jimmy Baxter drained a three-pointer, extending the lead to 25-10 at the close of the first quarter. The hosts turned cold to start the second, while Max Kouguere and Kahudi each scored a triple for Le Mans and Joao Paulo Batista added 4 straight points to cut the lead to 28-20. Both teams scored but the lead stayed put until Kouguere dunked the ball, slicing the difference to 32-26. Krka resumed its scoring down low, as Balazic and Pavic hit two consecutive layups that restored a double-digit lead 36-26. After an exchange of baskets, Krka’s Simon Petrov scored the quarter's last basket and a 40-28 halftime lead.
Le Mans went on an 0-8 run in the opening minutes of the third quarter as Rochestie scored 6 points on free throws and a triple to pull closer, 40-36. Pavic’s two foul shots ended the run, answered by 4 more points from the visitors, but then Balazic and Abdul each drained a three-pointer as Krka fought off the surge by Le Mans, 48-42. The quarter ended with a flurry of free throws by both teams, pushing the score to 54-46. Le Mans came out focused, knocking down the first 5 points on a triple by Henri Kahudi and layup by Travon Bryant, cutting the lead to 54-51. After the teams swapped baskets, Marko Djurkovic put in a layup to give the hosts some breathing room, 58-53. Dragic came up with a two-point jumper for Krka, but Dy Colo-Boungou buried 4 straight points and Charles Kahudi hit a pair of free throws to knot the game at 60-60 with 4:17 to go. The teams added only 2 points apiece until just under the 2-minute mark, when Edu Muric connected from downtown, giving the hosts a 65-62 lead. Balazic added 2 more with a layup, but Rochestie’s triple with 22 seconds left was not enough as Krka held on for the win, 68-65.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011