Gerrod Henderson netted a pair of free throws to give Azovmash Mariupol a narrow 82-80 win over KK Zadar on Tuesday in their first leg game of the ULEB Cup Last 32. Despite the win, the hosts will surely lament a blown double-digit fourth quarter lead. Now Zadar hosts the return leg next week in Croatia, needing a win by 3 points or more to reach the Last 16. Azovmash tried to escape during the second quarter with four consecutive bombs, two from Rodney Buford, to increase their margin to 32-18, but Corey Brewer helped Zadar to stay alive, highlighting a 4-12 run to get within 36-30. The hosts maintained a double-digit cushion during the third quarter, which ended 67-55, then in the final period, Zadar exploded and tied the score at 80-80, before Henderson scored the crucial free throws with a second left to give the win to the hosts. Henderson, playing for Azovmash for the first time, finished with 18 points and 6 assists. Buford led the hosts with 20 points, Robert Archibald posted a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds and Serhiy Lishchuk added 10. Brewer paced the Zadar attack with 27 points and 6 assists, Shamell Stallworth scored 17 and Jure Lalic added 11.
Henderson scored the first basket of the ULEB Cup Last 32 and Buford made it 8-4 for the hosts from mid-range. Julius Johnson posted 5 consecutive points, giving Zadar its first advantage of the match. Todor Gecevski extended it to 8-11 before Buford capped a 7-0 Azovmash run to put his side still in front 15-11 and Archibald in the paint fixed the score of the first quarter on 17-13. Buford from downtown gave the first double-digit margin to Mariupol early in the second quarter. After an easy layup scored by Rok Stipcevic for the guests, three more baskets from downtown from Buford, Panagiotis Liadelis and Oleksandr Skutyelnik highlighted a 15-5 run for Azovmash to take a 32-18 cushion at the midway point of the quarter. Gecevski and Brewer answered and kept Zadar close to reduce the difference to 36-30 before Yahor Meshchrakou from beyond the arc scored to make it 39-30 at halftime.
Henderson pushed Mariupol to 42-30 at the beginning of the third quarter. The teams then exchanged baskets, but the difference remained in double figures. Brewer scored from long distance to get to 53-41 midway through the quarter. Andrej Stimac and Brewer reduced the margin to 56-47, but the hosts were on fire and Henderson again nailed a three-pointer to go on to 59-47. The third quarter finished at 67-55 for Mariupol with Henderson beating the buzzer. Johnson cut the cushion to 69-64 early in the last quarter, fueling the Zadar hopes. Azovmash was forced to call a timeout, but the guests were back within 3 with Stallworth before Lishchuk posted back-to-back jumpers. Stallworth scored to make it 73-71, but then Archibald dominated in the paint to lead 77-71. Brewer helped Zadar to be back to 77-75 and with less than two minutes left Stallworth, tied it at 80-80. However then Henderson scored his 2 attempts from the foul line giving the win to Mariupol.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008