Unicaja snaps losing streak with win at Cedevita
Unicaja Malaga snapped its six-game losing streak by topping Cedevita Zagreb 78-91in the Croatian capital on Thursday. The result improved Unicaja to 3-7 in Group E, while Cedevita lost its sixth consecutive game and dropped to 2-8 and last place in the standings. Cedevita led early, but Unicaja used a 2-12 run to take the lead and the visitors never trailed again. Nemanja Nedovic and Will Thomas led the charge in the first half and Unicaja held a 42-48 halftime advantage. The visitors then quickly opened a double-digit margin after the break. Cedevita never came closer than 8 points the rest of the way, and the margin was as big as 18 in the fourth quarter. Nedovic finished with 15 points and 5 assists and Jack Cooley was all over the boards for 16 points and 10 rebounds. Fran Vazquez posted 14 points plus 9 rebounds and Thomas also scored 14. Mindaugas Kuzminskas chipped in with 11 points and DeMarcus Nelson with 10 in the winning effort. James White paced Cedevita with 16 points and Jacob Pullen scored 15, Marko Arapovic 12 and Miro Bilan collected 10 points, 9 rebounds and 3.
First quarter: Teams find rhythm, hit 8 triples
Bilan got things started with a soft touch inside, before White and Arapovic scored fastbreak layups to make it 6-0. Cooley opened Unicaja's account, but Arapovic had a dunk for the hosts. Nelson and Nemanja Gordic each hit a triple, before a three from Thomas cut it to 11-8. Bilan scored twice inside to open a 15-8 lead and force an Unicaja timeout. But things changed as the teams came out back on the floor. Vazquez scored three times in a row for Unicaja, including an alley-oop dunk after a pass from Nedovic to make it 15-14. A Luka Zoric dunk snapped a 0-6 run, but Thomas and Nedovic hit back-to-back triples to give the visitors a 17-20 lead. After a Cedevita timeout, Henry Walker tied it with a three-pointer. Nedovic answered with a step-back three, Unicaja’s fifth of the quarter, but Pullen nailed one from way downtown for Cedevita to tie it. On the final possession of the quarter, Nedovic made a runner just before the buzzer to give Unicaja a 23-25 edge after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Unicaja keeps slim advantage
Zoric opened the quarter with a dunk, but Nedovic answered with a runner and Alberto Diaz hit a jumper to make it 25-29. Pullen scored twice, with Cooley scoring a basket in between for the visitors. Nedovic’s three-pointer opened a 5-point cushion. Gordic made a pair of foul shots, which were the game’s first free throws after more than three minutes gone in the second quarter. After a put-back from Cooley, White and Carlos Suarez traded corner triples to make it 34-40. Gordic had a basket for the hosts, and after a series of free throws, White went baseline for a layup that helped Cedevita get within 42-44. But in the last minute of the half, Thomas hit fadeaway shot and then banked in tough baseline drive just before the buzzer, giving Unicaja a 42-48 advantage at halftime.
Third quarter: Visitors open a double-digit margin
Vazquez made a long jumper for Unicaja, and after a fastbreak layup by Arapovic, Vazquez scored again, this time from close range to make it 44-52. Bilan dished to Arapovic for a slam and Babic scored on a breakaway for the hosts. But Unicaja answered by stringing together 6 points, including back-to-back fastbreak baskets from Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Nedovic that opened the first double-digit lead of the game, 48-58. After a timeout, Arapovic had a put-back, but Nelson made a floater and a fastbreak layup for the visitors to open a 12-point gap. Walker fought his way for a put-back, and White made a tip-in for the hosts, but Unicaja kept the margin in double figures with Cooley’s free throws for a 54-65 lead.
Fourth quarter: Unicaja eases to victory
Zoric battled to score inside, but Nelson’s easy dunk and a put-back on a fastbreak by Kuzminskas gave the visitors a 56-69 advantage. An alley-oop layup from Vazquez and a put-back dunk by Kuzminskas opened a 17-point margin. Pullen made free throws and White scored from close range to snap a 1-9 run, but Vazquez made an easy layup to keep Cedevita at bay. Bilan and Kuzminskas traded tough baskets, before White’s layup-plus-foul cut it to 66-79. Cooley and Babic traded baskets, before Dani Diez hit a three and a baseline jumper to make it 68-86, sealing the deal. After a timeout, Pullen and Thomas traded triples. White scored from close range, but Cooley had a put-back. Arapovic’s layup, and Pullen’s transition triple rounded out the scoring.
Thursday, March 10, 2016