Unicaja uses 24-0 run to pull away and remain undefeated
Unicaja Malaga remained undefeated by rallying past Dinamo Banco di Sardegna Sassari 80-62 at home in Group D on Friday. Unicaja improved to 4-0 and is tied for first place with CSKA Moscow; the two teams face off in the Russian capital next week. Sassari dropped to 0-4. Richard Hendrix led the winners with 19 points, Will Thomas added 14, Edwin Jackson scored 11 and Dani Diez 10 for Unicaja. MarQuez Haynes led Sassari with 18 points and Rok Stipcevic added 12 for the guests. Jackson took over early and got help from Mindaugas Kuzminskas to get an early 12-5 lead, enough for the hosts to keep a 20-16 edge after 10 minutes. Haynes struck three times from downtown for a 24-29 turnaround. Unicaja still trailed 31-37 near halftime, but Will Thomas and Richard Hendrix rescued the hosts, fueling a mammoth 24-0 run that changed the game for good. Sassari tried to change things but Unicaja remained in charge until the final buzzer.
First quarter: Kuzminskas puts Unicaja ahead
Jackson got Unicaja going with a second-chance layup, which David Logan bettered with an unbelievable bomb from downtown. Jackson kept pacing Unicaja with a backdoor layup and a corner three-pointer by Kuzminskas gave the hosts a 7-3 lead. After Kuzminskas made free throws, Brent Petway found space for an uncontested layup. A big three-pointer by Jackson boosted Unicaja's margin to 12-5. Petway answered from downtown off a timeout. A red-hot Jackson sank foul shots, but a mid-range jumper by Haynes kept Sassari within 14-10. Kuzminskas scored of a spin move in the low post, but Rok Stipcevic did better with a bomb from downtown. Sassari entered the foul penalty, which allowed Unicaja to attack the basket. Kuzminskas and Jamar Smith split foul attempts for an 18-13 Unicaja lead. Fran Vazquez hit a five-meter jumper from the top of the key before a buzzer-beating triple by Giacomo DeVecchi kept the visitors within 20-16 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Haynes shines as Sassari pulls ahead
Jarvis Varnado buried a turnaround jumper early in the quarter, but Vazquez copied him at the other end for a 22-18 Unicaja lead. Haynes took over with back-to-back three-pointers to put Sassari back in charge. Petway took over with an alley-oop layup before Thomas scored down low. A wild catch-and-shoot triple by Haynes caused Unicaja to call timeout at 24-29. Joe Alexander hit foul shots, but a two-handed slam by Thomas kept Unicaja within 26-31. Logan shined with a one-handed floater in the lane, which Hendrix matched with a second-chance basket. A three-pointer by Dani Diez got the crowd involved at 31-33. Logan made free throws, as Unicaja kept having trouble organizing its offense. Alexander nailed a jumper of the dribble, but Hendrix did even better with a layup-plus-foul for a 34-37 score. Free throws by Thomas brought the hosts within 36-37 at halftime.
Third quarter: Unicaja takes over with 24-0 run
Thomas followed free throws with a dunk to put Unicaja back ahead, 40-37, right after the break. Unicaja played with more intensity at both ends. Thomas split free throws and a wild three-point play by Vazquez boosted the hosts' lead. Jackson scored around the basket and Hendrix added a layup to make it a double-digit game, resulting in Coach Romeo Sacchetti calling timeout. Jackson downed a jumper, as Sassari kept struggling to score. A three-pointer by Suarez boosted Unicaja's margin to 16. Hendrix finished a great team play with a fast break basket that ignited the crowd at 55-37, capping a mammoth 24-0 run. Sassari missed 11 consecutive shots and committed 4 turnovers until Haynes made free throws. Haynes returned to the line to hit 2 more and exchanged three-pointers with Smith for a 58-44 score. A jumper by Hendrix gave Unicaja a 60-44 margin.
Fourth quarter: Hosts leave Sassari no chance
Stipcevic buried a three-pointer early in the quarter, but Diez quickly answered from downtown and soon added a fast break layup off a steal to seal the outcome at 65-47. Hendrix kept pacing Unicaja with a layup and soon added a jump hook to make it a 21-point game, 69-48. Hendrix erased Alexander's big basket with a tip-in. Alexander answered from downtown, but Jackson buried a jumper off the dribble. Free throws by Stipcevic kept Sassari within 73-55. Thomas scored again, as both teams kept fighting. By the time Diez scored in penetration, everything was said and done.
Friday, November 6, 2015