McCollum, Smith lead UNICS to road win
In a high-scoring thriller decided by small details down the stretch, UNICS grabbed its second win in Group C with a 92-94 victory over Nanterre 92 at home on Wednesday. UNICS improved to 2-1 in Group C while Nanterre dropped to 1-2. Errick McCollum and Jamar Smith led the winners with 24 points. Alex Tyus added 15 for UNICS. Isaia Cordinier paced Nanterre with 17 points, Kenny Chery added 15, Taylor Smith 14 and Youssoupha Ndoye and Devin Oliver each got 12 for the hosts. Ndoye had 10 points in the first quarter, getting plenty of help from Chery and Oliver to give Nanterre a 27-20 lead after 10 minutes. The hosts boosted their margin to 33-22, but Jamar Smith and McCollum stepped up as UNICS tied the game, 44-44, at halftime. UNICS took the lead, 46-48, but Cordinier responded to keep Nanterre ahead, 70-69, at the end of the third quarter. Chery gave Nanterre a 92-88 with 1:06 remaining, but McCollum and Jamar Smith combined for all the points in a final 0-6 run that won the game for UNICS.
Cordinier got Nanterre going with a driving layup that Vangelis Mantzaris bettered with a three-point play for a 2-3 UNICS lead. Ndoye followed a jumper with a put-back slam, igniting an 11-1 run highlighted by Chery's three-pointer. Tyus dunked and Jamar Smith added a step-back jumper, but Ndoye and Oliver soon made it a double-digit game, 20-10. Valerii Likhodei and Pavel Sergeev tried to change things for UNICS, however, Chery and Spencer Butterfield kept the hosts fully in charge, 27-20, after 10 minutes. Sergeev kept pacing the visitors early in the second quarter. Chery and Taylor Smith boosted Nanterre's lead to 33-22. McCollum scored his first points, then Smith found Tyus for an alley-oop dunk and scored in penetration to bring UNICS within 36-29. Jamar Smith and McCollum each hit a triple, but Taylor Smith singlehandedly kept the hosts ahead, 43-36. McCollum had 6 points and fed Tyus for an alley-oop slam to tie the game, 44-44, at halftime.
A turnaround jumper by Jamar Smith gave UNICS its first lead, 46-48, soon after the break. Ndoye scored down low and then Damien Bouquet added a layup and fed Cordinier for a dunk but Jamar Smith and McCollum kept UNICS ahead, 54-55. Cordinier remained unstoppable, but a triple by Jamar Smith and a layup-plus-foul by Artem Klimenko tied it at 61-61. Klimenko kept pacing UNICS only to see Taylor Smith and Cordinier lift Nanterre to 70-69 after 30 minutes. Evgeny Kolesnikov followed a three-pointer with a layup early in the fourth quarter and Mantzaris also struck from downtown for a 74-77 UNICS lead. Chery hit a jumper, Cordinier added a huge dunk and a triple by Dallas Moore provided another lead change, 81-79. Chery scored again and a three-pointer by Moore caused UNICS to stop the game at 87-83. Smith answered from downtown and added a circus shot, but Cordinier and Chery put Nanterre ahead, 92-88, with 1:06 left. Jamar Smith hit a huge triple and free throws by McCollum gave UNICS the lead, 92-94, with 16.1 seconds to go. Nanterre had a chance to win it, but Spencer Butterfield missed from downtown in the final seconds.
Jamar Smith was the difference-maker in this game, hitting one big shot after another to ensure UNICS walked away with a win. He had 24 points off the bench, hitting 5 of 8 two-point shots, 4 of 7 three-pointers and 2 of 2 free throws. He added 3 rebounds and 6 assists for a performance index rating of 24.
A free throw by Cordinier gave Nanterre a 92-88 lead with 1:06 left. Nanterre fouled before UNICS inbounded the ball off a timeout, so McCollum split free throws and Jamar Smith hit a huge three-pointer. Nanterre could not score at the other end and McCollum drew a foul and hit both attempts this time to put UNICS ahead for good.
Three-pointers made the difference in a very close, high-scoring game. Nanterre downed 6 of 16 attempts (37.5%) and UNICS did a little bit better, firing in 11 of 24 (45.8%). UNICS also grabbed 12 offensive rebounds, which was critical too.
Did you notice?
Nanterre set a new club record for most two-point shots made in a EuroCup game, 28. Its two-point shooting percentage, 68.3%, was also an all-time best for Nanterre, but it was not enough for the French powerhouse to win the game.
Both teams return to EuroCup action on Wednesday, October 23. UNICS hosts Joventut Badalona in a game that sees the teams will face each other for the first time since 2010. Also that day, Nanterre visits Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana in the Slovenian capital.
Wednesday, October 16, 2019