BK Ventspils used a gradual takeover of the scoreboard to eventually blow out visiting Ovarense Aerosoles 92-67 at home in Latvia on Tuesday, moving a step closer to qualification for the ULEB Cup elimination rounds from Group B. Ventspils raised its record to 5-2, taking advantage of a loss by Koln 99ers to stake sole claim to second place in Group B with three regular season games remaining. Ovarense, still winless at 0-7, is virtually eliminated from advancing. The visitors fought well through 15 minutes, but faced double-digit deficits early in the second half and kept losing ground the rest of the way. Jimmy Baxter was the big gun for Ventspils with 22 points on 8-for-14 two-point shooting, while Justin Love added 12 points and Riamonds Gabrans 10. Ovarense got 22 points, as well, from Ben Reed, while Gregor Stempin followed with 17 and 8 rebounds. Ovarense's top rebounder, Graham Brown, pulled down 13 boards.
The teams felt out each other for several minutes before the game's first three-pointer fell off the hands of Uvis Helmanis, giving Ventspils the first clear advantage, 9-5. Before long, Ovarense was fighting back to go ahead 14-15 on Stempin's triple. Ventspils responded with the next 4 points, expanded the lead to 22-17 on a basket by Gabrans, but saw Ovarense tie again before Akin Akingbala's basket won the first quarter for the hosts, 24-22. Ventspils stayed a step ahead of the visitors early in the second quarter, but with a triple by Reed to make it 30-27, Ovarense stayed within striking distance, too. Baxter's 3 two-poiunters in a row change things at 38-31, as Ovarense struggled to lower its disadvantage. Ventspils got its first double-digit lead on free throws by Akselis Vairogs before settling for a 49-40 halftime lead. Baxter's triple after the break sparked a 7-0 start for Ventspils and started putting the game out of reach, at 56-40, for Ovarense. The differense soon topped 20 points, at 67-46, on free throws by Love before the third quarter ended 71-52. Ventspils used the fourth quarter to put on an offensive show for its devoted fans and cruised to a final victory of 25 points. That was a point more than the last time the teams met in Portugal, making this Ventspils' biggest victory so far.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007