Unics made it to the Eurocup final!
Unics confirmed its status as a solid candidate to lift the Eurocup trophy by downing Cedevita Zagreb 87-66 in the first semifinal at Palaverde in Treviso, Italy on Saturday. Unics stormed into the Eurocup final for the first time in club history and will also make its Euroleague debut next season if it adds another win in the title game tomorrow. Cedevita, the first Croatian team to reach the semifinals, will try to please its many fans with a win in the Third Place game tomorrow. Terrell Lyday paced the winners with 27 points. Kelly McCarty aded 18, Maciej Lampe had 16 while Marko Popovic got 14 for Unics. Damjan Rudez led Cedevita with 16 points. Bracey Wright added 15, Dontaye Draper and Vedran Vukusic each had 11 while Marino Bazdaric got 10 for the Croatian side. Rudez gave Cedevita an early 5-9 lead but Lyday led a 10-0 run that allowed Unics to get a 15-9 margin. Cedevita made just 1-of-12 shots from downtown in the first quarter, as Lyday, McCarty and Ricky Minard made it a nine-point game, 22-13, after 10 minutes. Popovic and McCarty struck from downtown in an 18-1 run that boosted Unics' lead to 33-14. Popovic singlehandedly allowed his team to keep a 47-30 halftime margin. Marino Bazdaric shined after the break and got some help from, Vukusic to get Cedevita within 67-55 after 30 minutes. Cedevita managed to get within single digits, 70-61, but Lampe and McCarty stepped up in crunch time to lead Unics to a well-deserved win. Dontaye Draper got Cedevita going with a driving layup, as Unics struggled to score in the opening 2 minutes until Lyday stepped up with a six-meter jumper. Cedevita tried a very dynamic starting lineup with Rudez at power forward. He scored in penetration but McCarty answered from downtown for a 5-4 Unics lead. Rudez sank a three-pointer but Draper picked up his second foul in just 3 minutes. Coach Evgeny Pashutin brought Minard off the bench to improve his team's offense. Wright hit a step-back jumper that Lampe improved with 4-of-4 free throws for a 9-9 tie. Cedevita had started to miss open shots and entered the foul bonus, so Unics tried to attack the basket to go to the free throw line. Lyday and McCarty hit foul shots to put their team back ahead, 13-9. Lyday buried another long shot to make Cedevita call timeout at 15-9, after a 10-0 run. Corsley Edwards shined with a tip-in and Wright added an off-balance driving layup for Lyday answered from downtown for a 18-13 score. Minard followed a dunk off a midcourt steal with a driving basket for a 22-13 Unics lead after 10 minutes.
Cedevita changed its game plan and tried to get its big men involved early in the second quarter. Edwards split free throws but a triple by Lyday gave Unics its first double-digit lead, 25-14. Unics controlled the defensive board and kept finding easy points in transition. Marko Popovic joined the three-point shootout and Lyday sank a step-back jumper that broke the game open, 30-14. Unics entered the foul bonus, however, and could not play defense with the same intensity so it switched to a 3-2 defense. McCarty struck from downtown to put a mamooth 18-1 run. Wright tried to change things with a three-point play but Lyday scored in transition to keep Unics out of trouble, 35-17. Vukusic, back in the game with 3 fouls, took over with a put-back layup but Lampe and Popovic soon made it a 20-point game, 39-19. Rudez followed free throws with a three-pointer and a tip-in by Vukusic gave Cedevita some hope, 39-26. Popovic knocked down back-to-back triples and McCarty matched Wright's free throws with an outstanding two-handed put-back dunk for a 47-28 Unics score. A buzzer-beating floater by Rudez fixed the halftime score at 47-30.
Vladimir Veremeenko and Lampe, each with 3 fouls, stepped on court after the break and Cedevita tried to take advantage of that. Draper hit a six-meter jumper that Veremeenko matched with a smooth move in the low post. Vukusic buried a mid-range shot but an uncontested dunk by McCarty and another three-pointer by Lyday gave Unics a 54-34 margin. McCarty provided a highlight with a huge block, sending the ball - literally - to the third row. Veremeenko sank free throws and McCarty added a floating layup but Bazdaric bettered that with back-to-back three-pointers. Lampe hit free throws but Draper stepped up with a jumper, igniting an 0-8 run that Bazdaric capped with a corner triple to force Unics to call timeout at 60-48. Minard downed a three-pointer and Lyday added a dunk to restore a 65-48 Unics margin. Wright and made free throws and Vukusic followed that with a three-pointer to bring Cedevita back to life, 67-55, at the end of the third quarter.
Cedevita needed to keep its comeback going to return to the game and improved its defense early in the fourth quarter. Wright, that had missed twice from downtown in consecutive offenses, shined with an backdoor layup and a jumper by Rudez brought his team within single digits, 68-59. McCarty and Draper traded baskets, forcing Unics to call timeout at 68-59. Despite using longer possessions, Unics could not find the way to the basket. Wright missed free throws and Rudez stepped out of bounds, however, and a three-point play by Lampe gave Unics some fresh air at 73-61. Badzaric split free throws but Lyday allowed Unics to seal the outcome, 75-62, with 4 minutes left. Cedevita kept trying, however, but Unics kept full control of the game. McCarty made foul shots and by the time Lampe sank a jumper, everything was said and done already. Unics will keep fighting for Eurocup glory tomorrow while Cedevita will try to finish its fantastic debut season with a prestigious win in the Third Place game.
Saturday, April 16, 2011