A microwave performance by shooting guard Ben Dewar in the third quarter and clutch baskets by Charles Kahudi in the fourth gave Le Mans a hard-fought 63-67 comeback road win against Unics on Tuesday in Kazan, Russia. Le Mans came back from an 18-point second-quarter deficit in the thanks to 10 straight points by Dewar, who totaled 13, in the third. Point guard Antoine Diot and center Joao Paulo Batista led the winners in scoring with 14 points each, while Kahudi added 9. Unics, who won the rebounding battle but could not capitalize when it mattered, had their best man in Marko Popovic, who scored 21, while Kelly McCarty followed with 12 and Terrell Lyday added 10. Now 2-1, Unics shares the same record with Le Mans in Group A. Both teams will square off in Week 4, this time in Le Mans.
Popovic was on fire early for Unics, scoring 5 points in an 18-4 opening run for the hosts. Popovic hit a three and assisted McCarty for another as Unics moved the ball well and stifled a Le Mans offense that committed 5 turnovers in the first 10 minutes. Alex Acker was the only visiting player to score with his 6 points in the first 7 minutes, but even after Thierry Rupert went to the free throw line, the Unics defense ruled on the way to 24-8 lead after 10 minutes. Le Mans head coach John David Jackson tried to get big man Batista going inside, but it was Diot who finally keeping the visitors in the game with a pair of buckets that made it 27-13. The visitors kept clawing back after getting Batista some foul shots and, as Unics cooled off some, Kahudi kept doing the little things that allowed his teams to cut the lead into single digits, 35-26. Defense was paramount for the visitors, who made Unics go to the foul line to get any points, while Batista scored the last bucket of the half, which finished 38-28 in favor of Unics.
Both teams tried to establish a post presence after the break, and Alan Koffi scored the first points for Le Mans, as Diot made a point of getting him and Batista better looks. Unics struggled to counter, and then Dewar took over the backcourt scoring load for the visitors, going on a personal 0-10 run over 2 minutes that catapulted Le Mans into a 41-47 lead. Popovic finally stopped the bleeding with a jumper for Unics, then hit a triple to close the third quarter at 46-49. Back on their heels, the hosts hit back to start the fourth quarter with a Lyday jumper and consecutive triples by Popovic and reserve guard Zakhar Pashutin, regaining the lead at 54-53. But Dewar was on a mission and answered with a triple of his own and a steal that allowed Kahudi to score on a layup to make it 54-58 again for Le Mans. McCarty was able to tie it with a pair of free throws and flipped the scoreboard in Unics' favor again, 63-62, with a basket off a Popovic assist. But Kahudi came up big in the clutch for Le Mans, as he hit a dagger of a go-ahead three-pointer at 63-65, while Unics tried a triple from Vladimir Veremeeko that missed on the ensuing possession. Diot finally iced matters with a couple of free throws that gave Le Mans reason to exhale and celebrate, now at 2-1 in Group A.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010