Mornar takes historic Montenegrin derby in OT
Isaiah Whitehead knocked down a long triple in the dying seconds of overtime to lift Mornar Bar to an 85-82 victory over archrival Buducnost VOLI Podgorica at Topolica Sports Hall in the first game ever between two Montenegrin clubs in the 7DAYS EuroCup. Mornar remained undefeated at home in improving to 3-2 while dropping Buducnost to the same record. Jacob Pullen, who assisted on the game-winner, led the winners with 23 points and 5 assists, Whitehead finished with 18 and 5 and Kenny Gabriel contributed 13 points and 8 rebounds. Melvin Ejim paced Buducnost with 15 points, Willie Reed posted 13 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out in overtime and Suad Sehovic and Nikola Ivanovic scored 12 each in defeat.
A Petar Popovic steal and slam gave Buducnost the start it wanted. The visitors scored on each of their first four possessions in jumping to a 3-8 lead. A three-pointer by Gabriel got Mornar going and a pair of layups by Pullen kept it close. A layup by Whitehead gave Mornar its first lead, 15-14 before Buducnost called timeout. After two more lead changes, Justin Cobbs tied the game twice. Dragan Apic pushed Buducnost back in front before a Whitehead layup on the buzzer made it 22-22 after 10 minutes. The lead continued to switch hands and Pullen's basket-plus-foul made it 32-20 midway through the second quarter. Sead Sehovic stretched the Mornar lead to 5 only to see Danilo Nikolic scored the next 5 points to even things at 36-36. Ejim and Zoran Nikolic made it a 0-9 run, but Pullen drew Mornar close again. Danilo Nikolic's floater made it 39-42 at the break.
The Buducnost attack went cold early in the second half and Pullen evened the score at 44-44. Threes by Ejim and Popovic put Buducnost back in control. Second-chance points from Reed and Ejim gave the visitors their biggest lead, 48-55. Whitehead stepped up for Mornar with a pull-up three and drawing an offensive foul. Taylor Smith's dunk tied it at 55-55. After a Buducnost timeout, Gabriel nailed a three to cap a 10-0 charge that restored a Mornar lead. A free throw each from Ejim and Pullen ended the third quarter at 59-56. Uros Lukovic stepped up with big plays at both ends – including a pair of alley-oop dunks and a block at the rim – as Mornar surged ahead. Pullen's first three of the game made it 68-59. After a Buducnost timeout, Suad Sehovic knocked down a clutch three and Ivanovic converted a three-point play to get within 70-67 with 5 minutes to play. After a timeout, Ivanovic drained a second three to tie it and then added a floater to put Buducnost ahead in what became a 0-11 surge. Layups by Pullen Gabriel restored a Mornar edge before Reed's alley-oop made it 74-75. Free throws by Pullen with exactly 1 minute to play nosed Mornar in front and Cobbs split a pair 12 seconds later to tie it. Each team missed on its final possession of regulation to send the teams to overtime at 76-76.
Reed fouled out a minute into the extra session, but Smith missed the resulting free throws. Free throws by Ivanovic marked the first points in overtime before Whitehead bettered him with a three. Ivanovic and Pullen traded scores to put 81-80 on the scoreboard with 2 minutes on the clock. Ejim sank free throws to nudge the visitors in front. Whitehead split free throws with 36.4 seconds left to tie the game at 82-82.
On a night in which he struggled from behind the arc (1-of-7 three-point shooting), Jacob Pullen came up big for Mornar in almost every other way. He led the team with 23 points on 7-of-10 two-point shooting. He grabbed 3 rebounds and dished 5 assists. He scored 7 points and dished 2 assists in the fourth quarter alone, made a crucial score in the extra session and assisted on the game-winning shot.
Uros Lukovic was quiet for much of the game, but his 3 baskets and big block early in the fourth quarter helped Mornar grab a promising lead. Though it didn’t hold and the game went to overtime, his contributions should not be overlooked. Lukovic finished with 9 points, 3 rebounds and 1 block in 20 minutes.
Buducnost committed 17 turnovers, which were only 3 more than the hosts. How each team capitalized on said turnovers tells a story as Mornar got 18 points off turnovers compared to 11 by Buducnost.
Mornar Bar remains home in Round 6 when it hosts ratiopharm Ulm on Tuesday, November 3. Buducnost travels to Italy for a date with Germani Brescia on the same evening.
Wednesday, October 28, 2020