Austin Daye was the hero for Umana Reyer Venice on Wednesday with a big fourth quarter to spark his team past Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar. However, before his fourth-quarter outburst, the forward had been in a slump that had lasted a game and a half.
Daye struggled through a nightmare game in domestic competition against Banco di Sardegna Sassari last weekend. Even though his team won 55-54, Daye recorded a horrific stat line as he missed all but 1 of his 19 field goals attempts to finish 1-of-12 on two-point shooting and 0-of-7 from behind the arc. Against Lokomotiv, the game wasn’t going in his favor either.
He was taken out after committing his fourth foul with the game tied 38-38 and 6:47 to go in the third quarter. Until that moment, Daye had scored just 4 points in a poor shooting night; he had made just 1 of 4 shots from the field and a couple of free throws. But when things mattered most, and when his team needed him, Daye picked up the phone and gave the best answer.
Daye started the fourth quarter in style and needed just a minute to tie the game, 50-50, which became the prelude of a heroic comeback.
Soon after, he connected on his first triple to put Reyer in front, 55-54, and then all hell broke loose. He tallied another 8 points in a row - behind back-to-back threes - to highlight a 15-4 run for Reyer that set a game-high 9-point lead for his team, 65-56, with less than 3 minutes to go. At that point, the game was essentially over.
He didn’t score more in those final 3 minutes, but he didn’t need to; The job was done. Thirteen points in a 7-minute span with awesome shooting percentages were enough to rescue his team and send it to their fifth in a row, as his Coach De Raffaelli acknowledged after the game: "When Austin Daye came back to the team and was able to score some baskets, it was so important for us."
Indeed, when things were going worst for Daye, he turned it around and shined bright. And the rest of the EuroCup had best be on notice that when Daye is hot, Reyer is tough to stop.