|Group C winner Triumph Lyubertsy preserved its undefeated record heading into the Last 16 by downing already-eliminated Artland Dragons with a 94-95 overtime road win on Wednesday. Lybertsy finished with a 6-0 record, while Artland fell to 1-5 as it said goodbye to the competition with a great effort. A late swing in the final quarter pulled Triumph back from the brink of defeat, and it was the stronger team in a close extra period. Yuvay Naimy led Triumph in scoring with 26 points, while Tasamin Mitchell put in 24 and hit some clutch shots along the way. Artem Vikhrov added 15 points and Devin Searcy 10 for the winners. Ryan Gomes dropped 15 points, Marquez Haynes 13, Johannes Strasser and Demond Mallet 12 each for Artland.
Bryce Taylor started the scoring for Artland with a layup, beginning a back-and-forth tussle in which neither team was able to establish a serious lead. The inside game dominated early, with Taylor, Guido Grunheid and Demond Mallet all putting in close-range baskets for the hosts. The Dragons couldn't go more than 4 points ahead, however, and a late rally led by Vikhrov and Mitchell let Triumph level the score at 14-14 before free throws and a buzzer-beating two from Strasser sent Artland back in front, 18-14, after 10 minutes. Artland extended its advantage at the start of the second quarter, as Petar Popovic nailed his first shot of the game. Triumph again used Mitchell and Vikhrov to good effect, and added Naimy's sharp shooting from the perimeter to get back to 20-19. After continually chasing the hosts, Triumph finally took the lead in the final minute of the second quarter, when Evgeny Valiev hit a two-pointer and then Vikhrov expanded the gap with a pair of free throws on the way to a 35-38 halftime score.
Mitchell started off the second half by breaking into double-digit points with a lay-up. Soon, Naimy's third triple in as many attempts brought the biggest advantage of the game to Triumph, 35-43. Strasser, who had been quiet in the second quarter, rallied Artland with a triple of his own before Mallet's scoring spree brought the home team back from 37-45 down to 47-46 ahead. Neither side was going to run away with this one. The lead was exchanged frequently before the end of the third quarter, but it was Triumph, after a late scoring spree capped by Ivan Lazarev's layup, who went 51-58 after 30 minutes. Gomes shot from beyond the arc to show that Artland meant business coming out for the fourth quarter. Fueled by inside baskets, what followed was the highest-scoring quarter of the game. Naimy's fifth three-pointer in as many attempts gave Triumph a 10-point lead with less than five minutes to go, but Artland went on a tremendous rally; Christian Hoffmann hit a three, then Strasser, then Gomes as the difference was cut to just a single point in the final seconds. After Mitchell's pair of free throws for Triumph, it looked to be all over. Enter Andrew Drevo, whose clutch three-pointer at the buzzer forced overtime at 83-83.
Overtime proved to be another close affair, with the lead never reaching more than 3 points for either team. Taylor shot from outside put Artland ahead for the last time in the game, with 3 minutes remaining on the clock. Triumph's response came from Searcy, Mikhail Kulagin and finally Mitchell as the visitors took home a hard-fought and entertaining 94-95 decision.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012