Unicaja, a 74-86 road winner at Entente Orleans
Unicaja remained perfect in Group B on Wednesday after a 74-86 road win over Entente Orleanaise at the Zenth Arena in Orleans, France, thanks to 30 points from Taquan Dean. The Unicaja sharpshooter shined with 15 points in a 0-22 run to finish the second quarter that gave Unicaja a 28-42 lead that it would never relinquish. Unicaja sits alone atop the group at 4-0 and will host Lietuvos Rytas next hoping to reach the midway point of the regular season undefeated. Orleans will travel to Efes Pilsen seeking its first win before it falls to far behind in the race for the Top 16. Orleans started strong and led for much of the first quarter-and-a-half. Laurent Sciarra’s passing and Cedrick Banks’s scoring had the hosts up 28-20 before Unicaja and Dean heated up and turned the game on its head. Dean drilled 7 triples in 12 attempts to pace the Unicaja attack. Jiri Welsch added 13 points and 5 assists, Robert Archibald scored 10 and Joel Freeland grabbed 11 rebounds for the winners. Ludo Vaty led Orleans with 15 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks, Justin Doellman scored 14, Ryvon Covile 12 and Banks 10, while Sciarra dished 9 assists in defeat.
Banks put the hosts on the scoreboard first with a three-pointer before Welsch netted Unicaja's first basket. Unicaja made Archibald a focal part of the offense and he passed to an open Carlos Jimenez to tie the score at 4-4. Dean hit a three from the corner as Unicaja took its first lead. Banks banked in a runner and Covile hit a turnaround jumper as Orleans went back on top. Covile went inside for another basket, but Dean’s jumper bounced in for Unicaja. Doellman got the fans going with a three-pointer that took the Orleans edge to 13-9. Orleans had little trouble breaking the Unicaja press, but Banks missed an open three. At the other end, another Dean basket and later a Guillem Rubio free throw narrowed the gap to 13-12 after 10 minutes.
Vaty scored on the offensive glass and Doellman connected from downtown to bring cheers from the stands. And when Sciarra found Austin Nichols for a three from the corner in transition that made it 21-12, the crowd erupted. Unicaja used a timeout to talk things over and Rubio ended the visitors’ drought with a basket on the offensive glass, but Sciarra dished to Vaty as Orleans continued to roll. Unicaja trimmed the gap on a Welsch triple and a pair of Archibald free throws. Nichols set Vaty up for a second-chance bucket that kept Orleans in front and then Sciarra connected with Adrien Moerman for a three – the team’s fifth of the game – that made it 28-20. Unicaja fought back, first with a Dean jumper and then back-to-back threes by Welsch and Dean to make tie the game at 28-28. Dean then connected on his third triple of the night to put Unicaja ahead again. Unicaja continued to stifle the Orleans attack and Dean continued his magic night with a four-point play – a triple from the top of the key and a foul. Unicaja looked to put the game away as Archibald scored inside, Dean nailed another triple and Jimenez sank 2 free throws to complete a 0-22 charge that made it 28-42 at the break.
The first point of the second half also went Unicaja’s way when Archibald hit a free throw. Banks hit a baseline jumper to end Orleans’s long scoreless spell, but Unicaja didn’t let up. Archibald scored inside, Covile was called for a technical foul and after 2 Jimenez free throws, Archibald scored inside again to take the lead to 18. Milic made 1 free throw for Orleans at the other end only to see Dean dart in for a basket at the other end. With its back to the wall, Orleans started its comeback with Covile scoring twice and Milic taking a steal in for a two-handed slam that made it 38-51. Welsch countered with a triple, but Sciarra threaded the needle to a spinning Covile for a basket-plus-foul. Shammond Williams quieted the Orleans fans with a triple and after a Banks basket, Berni Rodriguez fired another Unicaja three-pointer. An Omar Cook three took the Unicaja lead to 20. Free throws by Milic and Sciarra were followed by a Doellman triple as Orleans refused to go away. However Dean with his seventh triple showed that Unicaja was still in charge. Nichols hit from downtown to make it 55-70 at the end of the quarter.
Moerman gave the local fans some hope when he opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer and at the other end the Orleans defense limited Unicaja, but Orleans was unable to take advantage. Three minutes later, Vaty scored the second basket of the quarter to make it a 10-point game. The pace picked up, but a wild game led to many missed shots and turnovers. Welsch, who a minute earlier missed twice from the line, ended Unicaja's five-and-a-half minute scoring drought with 2 free throws. An Aldo Curti steal resulted in 2 made free throws, but Banks fired an airball on Orleans’s next possession. Jimenez finally scored his team’s first basket of the quarter as the visitors regained their composure. Vaty hit a jumper to keep the fans believing, but Cook answered with a three-point dagger and Nichols fouled out for Orelans on the next play. Berni drilled one more three to make it 64-80 with two minutes left. Even though Orleans played out the last minutes with heart, it was clear that Unicaja was heading home with the win.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009