ASVEL downs Tofas, moves into Top 16
ASVEL Villeurbanne became the first team to qualify for the Top 16 from Group D by downing visiting Tofas Bursa 84-74 on Wednesday night. ASVEL improved to 6-4, while Tofas dropped to 4-5 and will play a do-or-die game in Round 10 at home against Zenit St. Petersburg. ASVEL spent most of the night with the lead, but could not pull away. The hosts held 59-47 in the third quarter before Raymar Morgan fueled a 1-13 run that tied the game early in the fourth. However, David Lighty, Charles Kahudi and John Roberson came up with big plays down the stretch to lift ASVEL to victory. Lighty led the way with 15 points and 7 assists and Roberson scored 10 of his 14 points in the final 2:11. Kahudi finished with 13, while Alpha Kaba collected 12 points and 12 rebounds in victory. Tony Crocker netted 17 points for Tofas, Sammy Mejia had 14, while Morgan scored 13 for the visitors. Pierria Henry had 9 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists in the losing effort.
ASVEL had a better start to the game with Roberson and Kahudi connecting on an alley-oop dunk and Lighty hitting a corner triple in a run that opened a 9-2 lead. Crocker snapped it with a three-pointer on the other end, but a pair of dunks by Darryl Watkins kept the hosts ahead. Crocker had a three-point play, but a triple from A.J. Slaughter and a fastbreak basket from Kaba made it 20-14. However, Kenny Kadji had an assist and a three-pointer that helped the visitors make a 2-11 run and hold a 22-23 lead after 10 minutes. Back-to-back triples from Justin Harper and Roberson put ASVEL back in front, 28-25, but the visitors countered through Crocker who made a couple of buckets and Mejia scored twice to give Tofas a 36-37 edge. However, ASVEL had a strong finish to the half, with Lighty hitting another three and finishing a fast break with a dunk that made it 44-37 at the break.
Triples from Amine Noua and Kahudi opened the first double-digit lead of the night, 51-41, before a dunk by Kaba and a three-pointer from Harper extended it to 59-47. But Morgan strung together 7 points, before Mejia drove to the basket to cut the lead to 59-57 at the end of the third quarter. Mejia’s triple tied it at 60-60 early in the fourth, but Kaba had a three-point play and Nelson scored on a fastbreak to give ASVEL some breathing room. Mejia hit another three, but Lighty had a thundering fast break dunk over Kadji and Nelson hit a jumper that helped open a 72-63 lead midway through the fourth. Morgan snapped a 7-0 run with a triple, but Kahudi nailed a tough jumper and also pulled down an important offensive rebound in penultimate minute before Roberson made a circus shot and followed it up with a three-pointer to make it 81-70, thus sealing the outcome.
Wednesday, December 20, 2017