Budivelnik climbed into first place in Group J with a 72-77 come-from-behind victory at Le Mans. In his first Eurocup game, Dee Spencer scored 18 of his team-high 20 points in the second half to lead Budivelnik, which won its third straight game to improve to 3-1 in the Top 16. Budivelnik will have a chance to qualify for the playoffs next week when it hosts Aris BSA 2003. The game was close throughout. Budivelnik led for much of the first half, but was held scoreless for the first five-plus minutes of the third quarter as Le Mans rallied ahead. The game was close down the stretch, but the visitors were fresher in the closing minutes, outscoring Le Mans 4-12 in the last three minutes to register the win. Michailis Anisimov added 12 points for the winners, Denis Ikolev scored 11 on 3-of-4 three-point shooting, Zach Morley amassed 11 points and 5 assists and Lamayne Wilson posted 10 points and 8 rebounds. Alex Acker starred for Le Mans with a season-high 24 points plus 5 assists, but it wasn’t enough to lift his team. Joao Paulo Batista added 11 for Le Mans, which dropped to 1-3 and must win its remaining two games and have other results go its way to reach the playoffs.
Budivelnik got off to the start it wanted getting baskets inside from Dmytro Zabirchenko and Morley on its first two possessions. Alex Acker stepped up for the hosts and flashed his athleticism to lift Le Mans to a 7-6 lead. The lead started to change hands with every basket as the teams battled hard. Michalis Kakiouzis nailed the game’s first three-pointer to make it 12-10 for the hosts only to see Andy Betts tie the score moments later. Lamayne Wilson and Morley came through for the visitors as the Budivelnik attack improved and went on a 2-13 charge that Morley capped with a buzzer-beater to make it 14-23 after 10 minutes. Batista went to work inside with 5 straight points to open the second quarter and Acker soon cut the gap to 23-25 with a three-pointer. Ikolev stepped up with a pair of triples as Budivelnik raced out to a 28-35 edge, but Acker remained red hot and trimmed the gap to three. Billy Keys connected from downtown to lift the edge to 8 only for Charles Kahudi and Thierry Rupert to make it 37-40 at halftime.
Le Mans came out firing in the second half, keeping the visitors scoreless for the first five-and-a-half minutes of the second half. Acker was the focal part of the attack, scoring from the line and generating a picture-perfect assists to Antoine Diot for a fast-break layup. A Kahudi triple capped a 9-0 start to the half and gave Le Mans’s a 6-point edge. Spencer finally got Budivelnik going with a three from the corner, but a Brandon Bowman three kept Le Mans in charge. Ikolev and Spencer rallied Budivelnik back to 51-51, but in the last 10 seconds of the third quarter, a Marc-Antoine Pellin triple, a Bowman steal and a Ben Dewar three lifted Le Mans to 57-51. Spencer took the scoring mantle for the guests and cut the lead to 59-56. Acker brought the Le Mans fans to their feet with a big three-pointer, however Morley soon had Budivelnik within 64-63. Le Mans held on until there were just over two minutes remaining and Keys converted a basket-plus-foul to put his team up 68-70. Things then unraveled for the hosts as Acker slipped and lost a ball and Morley rejected a Dewar shot, while at the other end Spencer and Wilson lifted the Budivelnik lead to 5. Dewar and Diot missed hurried threes on Le Mans’s next attack and Spencer effectively iced the victory with a pair of free throws in the final minute. Acker narrowed the gap to 3 with 18 seconds left, but Le Mans was again forced to foul Spencer and he put the game out of reach with another free throw.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011