Rytas turns to defense, blows past Mornar
Rytas Vilnius used a huge second half to register its first road win of the season, topping Mornar Bar 69-92 on Wednesday night. Martynas Echodas and Mindaugas Girdziunas scored 13 apiece for Rytas, which took a big step toward a place in the Top 16 by improving to 3-2 and a share of third place in Group D. Bronson Koenig scored 14 for Mornar, which dropped to 1-4 and fifth place. The Montenegrin champs committed 21 turnovers.
Deividas Sirvydis hit a pair of triples that helped Rytas take an early 8-14 lead, but Mornar answered from downtown through Strahinja Micovic. Rytas stayed in front, and a triple from Arnas Butkevicius made it 17-23. But Mornar cut it to 23-26 before the end of the first quarter, and Uros Lukovic opened the second with a dunk to make it a 1-point game. A three from Girdziunas and a three-point play from D.J. Seeley helped Rytas remain with the lead, 34-40, but the hosts made a charge. Antabia Waller hit a triple before a basket from Koenig gave the hosts their first lead of the night, 43-42. The teams went into halftime tied at 49-49, and Lukovic scored a put-back early in the third to give Mornar another slim advantage, 55-53. But Rytas stiffened up on defense and answered through Dominique Sutton, who scored half of Rytas points in a 0-16 run to grab control of the game. Chris Kramer's floater that beat the third-quarter buzzer made it 57-71 and Rytas continued running in transition, which led to them scoring the first 11 points of the fourth quarter and opening up a 57-82 lead and running away with victory.
Movers and shakers
The game featured 10 scorers in double figures. Martynas Echodas and Mindaugas Girdziunas scored 13 apiece for Rytas, Eimantas Bendzius and Dominique Sutton each scored 12, D.J. Seeley had 11 and Deividas Sirvydis scored 10 in the victory. Mornar's Bronson Koenig scored a game-high 14 points, Strahinja Micovic had 11, while Nikola Rebic and Uros Lukovic finished with 10 apiece for the hosts.
The Rytas defense produced 15 steals, which is the most ever by the club in a EuroCup road game. Its previous high was 12; the Rytas club record in the competition stands at 19 steals. Rytas also committed just 8 turnovers, which is also the third fewest in a EuroCup road game for Rytas. In the end, Rytas forced 21 turnovers, and Mornar had only 1 steal.
Defense does it
The game was tied at 49-49 at halftime, but after the break, Rytas allowed only 20 points, including just 8 in the key third quarter.
Mornar took a 55-53 lead in the third quarter, but Rytas's active defense, which produced 6 steals in the third quarter alone, and its control of the defensive boards started paying dividends. The visitors kept running in transition and getting easy baskets. A 0-16 run made it 55-69, a double-digit lead Rytas never relinquished. A 0-11 run to open the fourth quarter put the game out of reach for Mornar.
In Round 6 next week both teams go on the road. Mornar travels to face UNICS Kazan, and Rytas will face a tough road test against Unicaja Malaga.
Wednesday, October 31, 2018