Montepaschi Siena defeated Cholet Basket 67-71
By biding its time until a fourth-quarter takeover, Montepaschi Siena put an end to Cholet's three-game winning streak and stayed tied for first place in Group C with a 61-70 road victory on Wednesday in France. Siena is now 5-1 and tied atop the group with Fenerbahce Ulker, both teams almost but not quite qualified mathematically for the Top 16. Ksistof Lavrinovic scored 10 of his 23 points and Bo McCalebb 8 of his 14 in the final quarter as Siena solved game-long problems on the boards to pull away to victory. Cholet had a 13-0 edge on the offensive glass while taking consistent leads in the first half, and still led 45-39 midway through the third quarter, but Siena slowly took control after that. Cholet got 15 points, 9 rebounds from Antywane Robinson, 14 points from Sammy Mejia and 10 from Claude Marquis, but otherwise succumbed to the Siena defense, with low 43% accuracy on two-point shots. Neither team could shoot from three-point distance, with Siena going 1-for-10 from downtown, Cholet 1-for-11, but the visitors knew how to finish for the victory.
Kaukenas and McCalebb split the Cholet defense for layups and Milovan Rakovic went back-door for a reverse as the visitors jumped ahead 3-6 after tipoff. Despite plenty of time on offense, due to offensive rebounds, Cholet had trouble finiding the bottom of the basket as Siena's defense stuck like glue, even getting 2 blocks on one possession. But persistence paid off as Robinson downed a pair of put-backs to tie it up 8-8. After a timeout, the hosts kept it going with a free throw and put-back by Mejia and a three-point play the hard way by Christophe Leonard to make it 16-10. Cholet already had 6 offensive boards and was outrebounding Siena overall by 12-4 as the sight of injured Shaun Stonerook on the bench in street clothes weighed heavily for the visitors. After a timeout, McCalebb restarted Siena's offense with a drive and Andrea Michelori scored inside, but Cholet held onto an 18-14 advantage after 10 minutes.
Michelori passed out to Lavrinovic for a three-pointer to open the second quarter. Luc-Arthur Vebobe answered emphatically for Cholet, with a slam off another offensive rebound. Yet another second possession ended with Robinson dropping back a miss before he hit his team's first outside shot for a 26-19 advantage. Marco Carraretto saved Siena with a banked jumper from the foul line and then Pietro Aradori danced for a fastbreak layup to cut the difference to 26-23. When Marquis added another put-back on his team's ninth offensive rebound in 15 minutes, Siena head coach Simone Pianigiani asked for another timeout. Aradori and Lavrinovic made 2 free throws to cut the difference to 30-27, but Mejia got loose for a jump-hook and Marquis hit free throws off an offensive board to make it 34-27. Carraretto steadied Siena again with a jumper, to which McCalebb added free throws and Lavrinovic a baseline swish, getting the visitors as close as 35-33 at the break.
The second half began with Tomas Ress pulling the first offensive rebound for Siena and Lavrinovic scoring to tie 35-35. Robinson answered with a turnaround jumper in the post, but Kaukenas fed Lavrinovic to keep it tied. DeMarcus Nelson buried an open shot from the corner, his team's first three-pointer, to keep Cholet up 40-37. Lavrinovic scored inside again, but Mejia matched him and Leonard broke away for a slam as Cholet stretched its lead again to 45-39. Siena fought on the boards more now, and got some good news on offense as free throws from Kaukenas were followed by a scoop shot from Ress. When McCalebb fed Kaukenas for a thread-the-needle give-and-go it was all tied up again 45-45. Marquis scored low to keep Cholet ahead, but Michelori matched him for Siena. Both teams were nervous in the last 2 minutes as the third quarter ended 47-47.
After McCalebb opened the fourth quarter by giving Siena its long-awaited lead on an acrobatic drive, Vebobe answered down low for Cholet. McCalebb turned on the fastbreak jets to restore a 49-51 advantage for the visitors then assisted Lavrinovic despite falling down to boost the difference and force a Cholet timeout. The hosts then found a basket from Marquis before McCalebb made another spectacular layup at 51-56. Mejia answered with a put-back to keep it close, but Lavrinovic matched him. When Vule Avdalovic fed Randal Falker for a running one-hander, it was 55-58 with less than 4 minutes remaining, but there Cholet's scoring stalled. Lavrinovic stayed hot with a deep two-point jumper, then he and Nikos Zisis made a free throw each. Lavrinovic's next block stopped Cholet at the two-minute mark, after which McCalebb stole and scored a layup to break the game open at 55-64. Cholet's best last chance to win came on a steal after Mejia had made 3 of 3 free throws with 1:38 to play, but his three-pointer to try to cut the lead further missed everything. Lavrinovic and Kaukenas finished the Siena road win at the foul line, ending Cholet's win streak and letting the visitors retain their share of first place.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010