Rytas rides past Galatasaray
In a clash of former champs, Rytas Vilnius topped Galatasary Doga Sigorta Istanbul for a 73-89 road win at Sinan Erdem Dome on Wednesday. Both teams are 1-1 in Group G of the Top 16. Rytas used a strong finish to the first quarter to pull away, open a double-digit lead and then used its timely three-point shooting and domination on the offensive boards to control the remainder of the game. Eimantas Bendzius shot 5 for 9 from three-point range to pace the winners with 21 points. Pako Cruz scored 19 points, Arnas Butkevicisu collected 14 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists, while Mindaugas Girdziunas netted 12 points in the victory. Aaron Harrison scored 22 points for Galatasaray, while Alex Poythress had 19 and Greg Whittington 12 in a losing effort.
The teams traded punches with seven lead changes to open the game. A three-point play by Tu Holloway and a three-pointer from Girdziunas put Rytas up 11-14. Zach Auguste and Poythress were a force inside, scoring 13 combined points for Galatasaray, but the visitors remained in front by making all 7 of their free throws late in the first quarter. Bendzius opened the second with a triple to help extend the lead to 17-26. The teams traded fastbreak baskets as the momentum kept switching hands. Harrison hit a jumper and a triple for the hosts, but Butkevicius scored twice and Cruz knocked down a triple to make it 26-39. Harrison's three made it 35-45 at halftime.
Rytas dominated the offensive boards early in the second half to extend the margin to 37-51. Poythress strung together 7 points, including a triple, but Cruz and Bendzius hit back-to-back threes before Butkevicius took it coast-to-coast for a 45-61 lead. Harrison hit a corner triple and added another basket, but Girdziunas scored Rytas's last 7 points of the quarter and extended it to 54-72. A three from Bendzius stretched the lead to 54-75 on the opening possession of the fourth. Goksenin Koksal and Harrison hit threes to fuel a quick 10-0 run, but Bendzius snapped it with a three-pointer of his own. Whittington kept Galatasaray in it with 7 points, including a three-point play. Martynas Echodas had a put-back and Bendzius beat the shot-clock with a triple to make it at 70-84 as Rytas closed it out.
Offensive glass domination
Rytas entered the game as the top offensive rebounding team in the competition and showcased it with 20 offensive rebounds in this game. Rytas had 10 in the third quarter - and 7 of those came on three consecutive possessions early in the third quarter, resulting in 6 points that kept Rytas with a double-digit margin. Rytas outrebounded the hosts 39-20, and 20-7 on the offensive glass.
Flirting with club records
The 20 offensive rebounds for Rytas were the team's season-high and the club's third-most in competition history. Rytas made 21 of 22 free throws on the night, also the third-best percentage for Rytas in its EuroCup history.
It was an unusual sight when each coach called 2 timeouts in the opening 4:01 of the second quarter. Each of the four game-stoppages came as coaches tried to stop momentum-swings; Rytas tried to keep the lead while Galatasaray was attempting to catch up.
Next week in Round 3, Galatasaray travels to face UNICS Kazan (1-1), while Rytas will be at home to welcome AS Monaco (1-1).
Wednesday, January 15, 2020