Zenit outlasts Bayern in home opener
Zenit St Petersburg dominated the fourth quarter to erase an 8-point deficit and march to a 79-71 victory over FC Bayern Munich in its home opener at Sibur Arena. Zenit outscored Bayern 25-11 in the fourth quarter as it improved to 3-1. The hosts scored the game's first 13 points and behind Jordan Mickey, who scored 16 of his team-high 18 points in the first quarter, led 31-16 after 10 minutes. Bayern took charge with a big third quarter led by Corey Walden and Darrun Hilliard, but Zenit was too strong down the stretch. Alex Poythress added 14 points, Conner Frankamp scored 12, Billy Baron 10 and Jordan Loyd paired 9 points with a career-high 11 assists. Darrun Hilliard scored 24 and Corey Walden tallied 20 points and 7 assists for Bayern, which fell to 0-4.
Mickey dominated early with the game's first 8 points plus 3 rebounds in the first 3 minutes. Dmitry Kulagin added Zenit's third three to make it 11-0 before Bayern called timeout. Arturas Gudaitis also scored for the hosts before Nihad Dedovic buried a three from the corner to get Bayern on the scoreboard. Augustine Rubit also connected from deep for Bayern, but Loyd answered with a triple and before long a jumper from Mickey gave him 10 and Zenit a 20-6 lead. Hilliard heated up for the visitors, but so did Frankamp, whose three made it 27-10. Mickey kept at it and reached 16 points in the first quarter, which finished with the hosts ahead 31-16.
Hilliard and Zan Sisko got the first two baskets of the second quarter while at the other end, Mickey missed his first shot. Sisko kept the pressure on for Bayern and his three followed by Walden's free throws made it 38-27. Hilliard got Bayern within 9 before Poythress and Loyd restored some breathing room for Zenit. Augustine Rubit's free throws and Othello Hunter's three-point play got Bayern within 43-35 at the break.
Walden added another three plus a pair of free throws early in the second half to draw Bayern within 5. The point guard remained red hot and connected twice more from behind the arc to give Bayern its first lead, 47-48, midway through the third quarter. Zenit's struggles continued after a timeout and Hilliard made 2 free throws and then sank three-pointers on three of Bayern's next four possessions. Nick Weiler-Babb added a free throw to make it 52-60. Poythress made 2 free throws and blocked Walden's three at the buzzer to end the third quarter at 54-60.
Baron drove into the heart of the Bayern defense for a layup that got Zenit within 2 early in the fourth quarter. Andrey Zubkov's three-pointer made it 61-62 and he soon after tacked on free throws that gave Zenit the lead with 5:40 remaining in regulation. Poythress dunked and Baron netted free throws for a 68-63 advantage with 3 and a half minutes to play. Frankamp answered Walden's free throws with a layup. After Rubit scored inside, Frankamp kept the hosts ahead by two possessions with free throws before fouling out with 2:16 to go. A put-back-and-one from Poythress a minute later made it 75-68. Hilliard hit a three, but Loyd put the game on ice from the line.
Mickey enjoys historic first quarter
Zenit St Petersburg big man Jordan Mickey was simply unstoppable in the first quarter against FC Bayern Munich. He scored 16 points without a missed shot in staking Zenit to a 31-16 lead. Mickey made 5 two-pointers and 2 threes in that time. He also collected 3 rebounds for a performance index rating of 19. Mickey's point tally was the most in a quarter ever by a player without a missed shot, turnover, foul committed or shot blocked. However, Mickey was quiet after that with just 2 free throws made and 1 more rebound the rest of the way.
Another Bayern comeback comes up short
FC Bayern Munich has heeded its own reputation as a team that never quits. Last season Bayern put together several memorable come-from-behind wins. It looked like there would be another on Thursday after Bayern erased a 17-point first-quarter deficit to lead by as many as 8 points late in the third quarter. Coach Trinchieri's men had already been in that situation: In Round 1, Bayern erased a 17-point second-quarter deficit to lead late against Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv, but came up short. That scenario repeated itself against Zenit St Petersburg. The visitors made 1 of 6 two-pointers in the fourth quarter and 1 of 8 threes. They scored only 11 points in the final 10 minutes as Zenit came from behind to snatch the win.
Loyd goes from scorer to set-up man
Jordan Loyd has found his place as a go-to scorer for Zenit St Petersburg. He scored 19 points in both Rounds 2 and 3. However, on Thursday his team needed something else from him. Loyd read the FC Bayern Munich defense and the hot hands of those around him and became the set-up man, dishing a career-high 11 assists. That marked the most assists ever by a Zenit player without a single turnover! He racked up 7 of those in the first quarter alone by feeding the red-hot Jordan Mickey and Arturas Gudaitis. When his scoring was needed, Loyd was there too; his free throw completed the comeback by tying the game at 62-62 in the fourth quarter and Loyd iced the game with 2 free throws late.
Thursday, October 14, 2021