Zalgiris Kaunas ended the regular season on an upnote Thursday night at the same time that it denied visiting London Towers any chance to finish its 2001-02 Euroleague campaign with a mark in the victory column. Zalgiris climbed all over its visitors from London and rolled to a 90-72 decision in Group B. The victory allowed Zalgiris to close out the season at 5-9, good for sixth place in the group. London winds up as the only team this season or last to not win a game in the Euroleague. At 0-14, it remains in the eighth and final place in the group. Zalgiris ran out to a 28-19 lead after one quarter and had boosted that to 51-35 at the half. By that time, Grygorij Hiznjak had done a full night's work already, and sat down with 21 points. Other top Zalgiris scorers included Tomas Masiulis with 15), Dainius Salenga with 13 and Donatas Slanina with 12. London was led in scoring by Terrell Myers with 22 points, also in 20 minutes, and Brett Eppehimer with 14.
Starting the game too relaxed, Zalgiris trailed immediately after London three-pointers by Phil Hickey and Terrell Myers. A two-pointer by Ted Allen made the score 2-8 for the visitors. Zalgiris needed four minutes to close the gap and take its first lead at 12-10. The NEBL Player of the Month, Terrell Myers, kept London alive, answering last week¿s Euroleague co-MVP, Grygorij Hiznjak, basket for basket. When Tomas Masiulis and Dainius Salenga joined the scoring effort for Zalgiris, however, Myers¿ 14 points were not enough for London to maintain the pace of the home team. Zalgiris led 28-19 after the first period.
Zalgiris sent out three reserves to start the second quarter and Towers, set in a zone, take advantage of it. Breet Eppihimer scored 5 in a row, reducing the gap to 7 points midway through the quarter, 36-29. Zalgiris played zone now, too, and the game lost tempo and beauty. However, Hiznjak continued to dominate inside and closed the quarter with a three-point play inside for a 51-35 Zalgiris lead. He finished the half aiming for another weekly MVP award with 21 points and 9 rebounds.
The first half justified London¿s zone defense as Zalgiris missed all 8 of its three-pointers, but the Zalgiris zone was no problem for the visitors, who went 5-for-11 from downtown. Still, the overwhelming domination on boards (23-9 rebounds) enabled the hosts to maintain and then increase their advantage. After sitting out the second quarter, Myers' first three-point attempt was an airball. So Dainius Salenga instead answered with Zalgiris' first from three-point territory. Towers, for whom this was the fourth game in six days, already seem tired after the big break. The hosts put on a 13-0 scoring run to lead 64-35 as London remained scoreless for almost 6 minutes. Myers start scoring again, but the margin did not diminish and Zalgiris led 75-46 after three periods.
Hiznjak's MVP bid looks sidelined for this week when his coach continues keeping him on bench in order to play reserves. Eppehimer nails a couple of threes, but Sherman Hamilton does the same for Zalgiris. By the end of the game London must content itself with making a 15-0 run and cutting the final score to 90-72.
Thursday, February 14, 2002