Nizhny seizes eighthfinals spot from Maccabi in overtime!
In a do-or-die battle that lasted into overtime, Nizhny Novgorod survived its first trip ever to Tel Aviv by defeating host Maccabi FOX 84-95 and advancing to the Eurocup Eighthfinals from Last 32 Group M on Wednesday. Nizhny outscored Macccabi 3-14 in OT to win going away after the hosts had rallied from double-digit deficits after halftime to send the game to the extra period. A dazzling 14 to 4 advantage in three-point shots made by Nizhny on Maccabi's floor spelled the difference. Victor Rudd led the winners with 22 points, while Dimitry Khvostov made 5 of 8 from downtown, more than all the hosts put together, for 19 points. Semen Antov added 18, Vladimir Ivlev 13 and Ivan Strebkov 12 for Nizhny, which advances to play fellow Russian club Zenit St. Petersburg in the eighthfinals after finishing second in Group M with a 3-3 record. Maccabi closed its Eurocup season at 2-4 after getting 21 points from Mekel, 13 from Trevor Mbakwe, 11 from Devin Smith and 10 from Brian Randle in defeat.
Rudd's triple and Mekel's driving layup got both teams off on the right foot. Randle and Mbakwe took over inside as Maccabi surged ahead, but Semen's back-to-back baskets kept Nizhny close and Khvostov shot the visitors ahead 11-12 from the arc. Elijah Millsap and Smith took the lead back for Maccabi and Taylor Rochestie stretched it to 17-14, not far enough as this time a triple from Strebkov supplied Nizhny with a new advantage at 17-19. The lead kept changing hands until Andrei Kirdiachkin took it back for the visitors and Khvostov closed the quarter from downtown with them holding a 23-27 edge. Mbakwe y Randle regained the lead for Maccabi at 29-27 to open the second quarter and the lead changed hands again several times until Khvostov's 5 points in 20 seconds shot Nizhny in front, 36-40. Ike Ofoegbu helped Maccabi tie 41-41, but Nizhny closed out the half with a 0-6 run that Rudd finished near the buzzer to lead 41-47.
After the break, 5 points by Evgeny Baburin let Nizhny go ahead by 45-54 before Mekel reeled it back for Maccabi, but not for long. Semen popped a triple and Rudd his sixth two-pointer without a miss as Nizhny took the first double-digit lead, 49-59. But Mekel continued rallying Maccabi with 3 straight baskets, the last of which sparked a 7-0 spurt that Millsap ended with a three-pointer at 60-62. Millsap soon did the honors of tying it up before Mbakwe made a go-ahead layup for Maccabi, but time was left for Semen to hit a buzzer-beating jumper that made it 66-66 after 30 minutes. That shot turned into a 0-9 run for the visitors that Semen capped with a triple at 66-73. Mbakwe got 2 free throws back for Maccabi, but then Ivlev detonated a backdoor dunk for Nizhny. Maccabi's defense then came alive, blanking Nizhny for 3 minutes as Smith and Guy Pnini hit baskets to make it 72-75. Again, Khvostov reappeared for Nizhny from the three-point arc, and when Smith matched him at the other end, Rudd blasted a triple for the visitors, too, to make it 75-81 with 2:30 to play. After Rochestie hit 1 of 2 free throws, a Nizhny shot was discounted as having come after the 24-second shot clock. On a second-chance possession at the other end, Smith buried a triple to make it 79-81 with 50 seconds left. Nizhny missed and after another Maccabi offensive rebound, Mekel made game-tying free throws at 81-81 with 12.5 seconds left.
Nizhny again got the jump in OT as free throws by Ivlev and Rasid Mahalbasic plus a basket by Rudd made it 82-86. Maccabi couldn't buy a point on a three-chance possession, and at the other end, a big save by Ivlev led to Strebkov burying his third three-pointer at 82-89 with 2 minutes left. Maccabi was held to just 2 free throws in the extra period as Nizhny's defense finally locked down the victory and a place in the Eurocup Eighthfinals.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016