Making a big move in Group F despite not having won a home game yet, Krka Novo Mesto held on to beat BC Azovmash 66-71 by leading from the opening tipoff to the final buzzer on the road Tuesday in Mariupol, Ukraine. The victory was Krka's second in a row away from Slovenia and gave at least sole possession of second place in Group F with a 2-1 record. The visitors overcame a huge effort by Ricky Minard of Azovmash with a balanced attack led by Zoran Dragic, with 14 points and 8 rebounds, while Jimmy Baxter scored 13. Minard scored 31 points on 5-for-11 shooting from downtown and added 11 rebounds for Azovmash, whose record fell to 1-2. After leading 27-42 at the end of the first half, Krka withstood a furious rally by Azovmash, led by a relentless Minard, that cut the lead to 56-57 with 8 minutes left. The visitor got 25 points from the foul line, 10 more than the hosts, which proved decisive. Smiljan Pavic added 11 points and Simon Petrov 10 for the winners. Daniel Ewing was Azovmash's other double-digit scorer, with 11 points.
Krka took off on a 0-4 run, including a steal that Marko Djurkovic finished with a layup, to start the game. Oleksandr Kolchenko hit from the outside to put Azovmash on the board, but Krka kept it going with an eight-point burst capped off by Bojan Krivec's triple at 2-12. The hosts cut the lead to 6-12 on free throws by Ewing and a layup by Minard, who soon buried his first three-pointer. When Ewing added more free throws, Azovmash was within 11-14. Krka moved forward again on layups by Baxter and Dragic, while Minard stayed in the zone, draining 2 straight triples to keep Azovmash as close as 17-20. Unfortunately for Azovmash, a pair of technical fouls let Petrov make 6 of 6 from the line to keep Krka on top 17-26 to end the first quarter. Krka extended its lead to 19-32 early in the second quarter, as the scoring pace slowed. Minard hit free throws after Jure Balazic's layup, pushing the score to 21-34 at the quarter's midway point. The gap widened to 23-42 as Pavic and Baxter combined on three consecutive two-point baskets. Its own Slovenian, center. Hasan Rizvic, dunked for Azovmash as the host's nibbled away at the lead to end the half 27-42.
Both teams added points in a hurry in the second half, including Minard's fourth three-pointer, but Krka maintained a comfortable gap, 34-48. After Minard nailed another triple to pull Azovmash within 37-48, Dragic hit from mid-range to keep the Krka lead in double digits, 37-50. Baxter and Ewing swapped points, then Djurkovic's layup answered the host's free throws, pushing the score to 44-55. With under 2 minutes to go in the third quarter, Minard knocked down a jumper and Ihor Zaytsev drained a triple to cut the lead to single digits 49-55. After a Krka timeout, the teams exchanged two-pointers to end the quarter 51-57. The first points of the final quarter belonged Azovmash, as Zaytsev hit a jumper and Bogdan Baida hit from downtown, cutting the lead to 56-57. Krka stayed out front as Balazic's triple, Jerome Jordan's layup and Dragic's free throw put the score at 56-63. But Minard answered with a free throw and layup, cutting the difference to 59-63 with a little over 3 minutes to go. Ewing downed a layup to make it a one-point game, but Jordan's dunk and Baxter's free throws padded Krka's lead, 61-67. Once again, Minard answered with a jumper and free throw, as Azovmash trailed by only 64-67 with a minute to go. Baida missed a triple, then Dragic stole the ball and went the other way for a layup to make it 64-69 with 11 seconds on the clock. A Minard jumper and Krivec foul shot finished the scoring as Krka prevailed 66-71 for a good-as-gold road win.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011