Spirou Baskets took over sole possession of first place in Group L of the Last 16 with a convincing 82-94 road victory at Artland Dragons on Tuesday. Team from Belgium answered every comeback attempt the hosts could muster to raise its record to 2-0. Artland opened an early lead but saw Spirou take control the game with a 1-19 run spanning the first and second quarters. The guests scored the first 8 points of the second half, too, re-establishing control of the game with a 16-point lead. The German hosts would answer with a 9-0 run, but did not get closer than within 4 points of the lead the rest of the way. Spirou was playing without second-leading scorer Matt Walsh, sidelined with appendicitis, but did not need him in the end. Justin Hamilton scored 22 points, Len Matela collected 19 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals, while Jerry Johnson hit for 19 points and Andre Riddick added 13. Artland dropped to 0-2 in the group despite an excellent showing from the trio of Darren Fenn (25 points), Chad Prewitt (22 points) and Lamont McIntosh (16 points). But the rest of the team did not provide enough help with no other player scoring more than 6 points – though Drew Neitzel chipped in 5 points and 7 assists.
Hamilton opened the scoring for the guests and Prewitt answered right back with a triple. Both teams went a couple minutes scoreless before Prewitt made two foul shots for a 5-2 lead. McIntosh scored and then Adam Hess converted a three-point play to push the advantage to 10-6. Dirk Madrich completed his own three-point play and Artland led 13-6 midway through the first quarter. The teams traded baskets including Hamilton and McIntosh both hitting three-point shots as the lead was still 18-11. But Madrich turned the ball over on two successive possessions and Riddick’s basket and one trimmed the deficit to 18-16. And Matela’s offensive rebound put-back knotted the game. Spirou began taking advantage of better rebounding and mounting Artland turnovers as Riddick put back an offensive board for an 18-21 lead to complete a 0-10 run. Will Blalock ended the run to make it 20-21 after one period. Artland committed three turnovers in failing to score on its first five possessions of the second quarter and Spirou went on a 0-9 run with Jonathan Tabu and Riddick getting layups, Hamilton hitting a three-point shot and Matela making two free throws to make it 20-30. McIntosh’s break-away layup stopped the run and Prewitt knocked down a three-pointer to make it 25-32. But Matela pushed the cushion back to 10 points and Sacha Massot’s free throw made it 26-37. Artland captain Fenn did score four points but Riddick continued his superb game with another basket to keep Spirou ahead 30-41. After three Artland foul shots, Fenn’s basket brought the hosts to within 35-41. Johnson however answered with a three-point shot and Riddick’s dunk made it 35-46. But McIntosh hit right back with a trey and Spirou led 40-48 at the break.
Matela got things going for Spirou to start the second half with a three-pointer to re-establish a double-digit lead 40-51. Two failed Artland possessions later, Johnson knocked down a triple of his own and the gap was the largest of the game at 16 points, 40-56. Artland would answer from long range as Prewitt hit two long balls and McIntosh’s triple made it 49-56. Two Matela free throws stopped the run and Artland scored just one point – a McIntosh free throw – on an unsportsmanlike foul on Dwayne Broyles. Prewitt would then hit a layup and was fouled but could not convert a three-point play as the deficit was still 54-58. Massot hit and then Hamilton knocked down a trey and the gap was back to 54-63. Riddick’s dunk kept Spirou ahead by 8 points before Madrich’s triple cut the margin to 60-65. And Johnson’s three-point play left Spirou ahead 60-68 after three periods. Another Artland turnover to start the fourth led to a Tabu layup for a 60-70 lead. Prewit and Blalock scored to cut the margin to 64-70. But Blalock was called for an unsportsmanlike foul and Tabu’s free throw and Matela’s score had the lead back to nine points – 64-73. And two Hamilton foul shots made it 64-76. But Prewitt hit again from long range to keep Artland alive. And Fenn scored back-to-back baskets and Spirou’s margin was down to 72-79. The Belgian side once again had an answer with two Matela foul shots and a Broyles three-point shot for a 12-point lead with under 3 minutes to play, 72-84. Artland continued to try to come back with Neitzel draining a three-pointer and Fenn’s free throw making it 76-84. Hamilton however threw down a dunk and Matela turned a McIntosh miscue into a layup and the cushion was 76-88 in the final minute. And Spirou would not let Artland mount a comeback.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009