Thomas leads Zenit to road win
Zenit St Petersburg registered its third win by downing LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne 53-66 at the Astroballe on Friday. Zenit improved to 3-1 while ASVEL dropped to 1-5. Will Thomas led the winners with 14 points, and Alex Poythress added 12. Charles Kahudi led ASVEL with 14 points while David Lighty and Moustapha Fall each added 10. Zenit led 11-12 after 10 minutes and extended it to 21-28 at halftime. ASVEL managed to get within 53-56 with under 3 minutes left, but Zenit finished the game with a 0-10 run, cruising to a well-deserved win.
Fall got ASVEL going with a layup-plus-foul. Kevin Pangos answered with a floater and followed Mateusz Ponitka's fast break basket with a layup that gave Zenit its first lead, 5-6. Kahudi struck from downtown but Arturas Gudaitis kept the guests in charge. Lighty stepped up with a fast break layup but KC Rivers made Zenit regain the lead, 11-12, after 10 minutes. Poythress found his first points early in the second quarter for a 13-16 Zenit lead. Billy Baron downed a triple but Lighty dunked and Rihards Lomasz sank a jumper. Austin Hollins came off the bench and immediately delivered back-to-back jumpers and an alley-oop slam, boosting Zenit's margin to 19-26. Hollins kept pacing the guests and an off-balance layup by Paul Lacombe fixed the halftime score at 21-28. Antoine Diot downed a close jumper soon after the break. Gudaitis stepped up for Zenit but Fall and Lighty kept ASVEL within 28-32. Thomas scored down low but Kahudi did better with a three-pointer. Ponitka answered from beyond the arc, getting help from Gudaitis to give Zenit fresh air at 33-40. Thomas followed a layup with a turnaround jumper but Lomasz and Lighty gave ASVEL hope, 37-44, after 30 minutes. Lacombe downed a jumper early in the fourth quarter but Thomas and Poythress boosted their team's margin to 39-47. Lomasz swished a three-pointer and Fall added a jump hook to bring the hosts as close as 44-47. Poythress hit a jumper and Baron bettered Fall's close basket with a triple. Kahudi struck twice from beyond the arc but Thomas took over with a dunk-and-foul and Ponitka gave Zenit a 52-56 edge with 3 minutes left. Fall split free throws and Thomas downed a turnaround jumper that made it a five-point game, 53-58, before Pangos and Poythress sealed the outcome from the foul line.
Will Thomas played great defense down low and stepped up on offense in the second half, hitting all the shots Zenit needed to win the game. He finished with 14 points on 6-of-7 two-pointers, adding 7 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal and 3 fouls drawn for a PIR of 24.
ASVEL managed to get within 53-56 near the end but Zenit did not panic. Thomas hit a critical turnaround jumper, igniting a final 0-10 run in which Alex Poythress had 4 points, including a one-handed slam. By the time Billy Baron capped this run with a three-pointer, everything was said and done already.
Two-point shots made the difference in this low-scoring game. Zenit hit 19-of-28 shots inside the arc for its best two-point shooting percentage this season (67.9%). ASVEL only hit 16-of-39 two-point shots (41%) and picked up 19 turnovers. Zenit had 12 steals, a new club record in the EuroLeague.
Did you know?
ASVEL's 53 points are its worst scoring mark in the EuroLeague in over a decade, and its third worst in competition history. It previously scored 44 points against Efes Pilsen on November 12, 2003, and was limited to 52 against Zalgiris Kaunas on October 21, 2009.
Zenit hosts Khimki Moscow Region on Tuesday, November 17 at 18:00 CET. Six Zenit players - Rivers, Zubkov, Khvostov, Fridzon, Igor Volkhin and Anton Pushkov - played for Khimki in the past. Khimki also features three former Zenit players: Janis Timma, Sergey Karasev and Evgeny Voronov. A day later, on Wednesday, November 18, ASVEL visits ALBA Berlin at 20:00 CET.
Friday, November 13, 2020