Lietuvos Rytas retained its undefeated record and a share of the Group B lead by invading Le Mans to come out with a 77-83 victory on Wednesday. Its second win in as many road trips left L. Rytas with a 3-0 record, tied in first place with Aris, which also won on Wednesday. Le Mans falls to 3-0 and last place in the standings. L. Rytas looked strong early but Le Mans made a game of it by tying at halftime and taking a two-point lead into the final quarter. But L. Rytas buckled down and made the big shots when it counted to come back and win. Hollis Price was there all night with big shots for the winners, and finished with 25 points and 6 assists. Marijonas Petravicius followed with 14 points for L. Rytas, while first-half pace-setters Matt Nielsen and Mindaugas Lukauskis added 13 and 11, respectively. Le Mans rode 20 points off the bench from Phil Ricci to get back in the game in the middle quarters. Sam Clancy added 15 points, Raviv Limonad 14, also in a reserve role, and Luka Bogdanovic 12.
Neilsen got L. Rytas on the board with a pick-and-roll dunk fed by Mindaugas Lukauskis. After Clancy got Le Mans started with a second-chance shot, Pietrevicius and Batum exchanged inside baskets for a 4-4 tie. Koffi hit a jumper for the first Le Mans lead, then another big man, Nielsen, answered with the game's first triple to make it 6-7. Clancy's two-pointer was answered by Hollis with a steal and fastbreak layup, then Nielsen broke underneath, making it 8-11 for L. Rytas. Luka Bogdanovic and Koffi got Le Mans within 12-13, but Hollis hammered in a triple in response. Nelsen's free throws boosted L. Rytas ahead by 13-18, but Phil Ricci came off the bench with a three-point hook-plus-free throw for Le Mans. L. Rytas finished the quarter strong, however, as Lukauskas free throws and a gutsy triple by Price left the visitors in charge again 16-23.
Lukauskis added to the L. Rytas advantage with a running jumper to start the second quarter. Raviv Limonad sparked Le Mans by feeding Ricci for a dunk. Joao Batista came off the L. Rytas bench and hit a post-up shot. At 18-27, Le Mans took a timeout to talk about it, after which Clancy scored an inside basket and bonus free throw. Limonad's free throws and another Clancy two-pointer got the hosts as close as 25-29 before Lukauskis erupted for 5 consecutive points to reestablish the L. Rytas cushion. But Le Mans had a rhythm now. Nebojsa Bogavac made a three-point basket-plus-free throw before Ricci stepped out and matched him one one shot, cutting the difference to 31-32. L. Rytas was able to expand its lead again to 35-39 on Batista's turnaround jumper, but Ricci ruled the end of the half inside, putting back one offensive rebound, then tipping in his own miss on the buzzer for a 39-39 at the break.
Le Mans kept going inside to Clancy and Ricci to maintain its lead early in the third quarter, but soon the L. Rytas defense started paying more attention, particularly to second shots. Whenever the visitors from Lithuania needed a shot, however, Hollis was there to either take it or dish it to a teammate. He was getting some competition on offense from Limonad, now, who despite three fouls was a driving force for the hosts. Bogdanovic chose that moment to drill the first of his three-pointers, too, while on the L. Rytas side, Petravicius was stepping up his activity in the paint to counterbalance Le Mans. Nonetheless, the hosts held onto a 60-58 lead at the end of 30 minutes.
The final quarter was much like the previous one, with both teams looking for extra contributors, and L. Rytas got a major one in Chuck Eidson, who had made his first appearance of the season the previous quarter. Eidson did what he does best - a little of everything - collecting steals, getting to the foulline and hitting a big three-pointer from the corner that made things more comfortable as the guests took control. Just the same, it was still close in the final minute when Nicolas Batum of Le Mans was whistled for a technical foul, the free throws from which let L. Rytas put the wraps on a major road win.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007