Unicaja steals home-court advantage with big win in Krasnodar
Unicaja Malaga took control of its 7DAYS EuroCup Semifinals series against Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar with a 57-73 victory in Game 1 on Tuesday. Unicaja hosts Game 2 of the best-of-three series on Friday with a chance to claim a spot in the finals.
The visitors used a 0-11 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters to pull away for good. Unicaja made the difference with its defense as it did not allow Lokomotiv to score more than 13 points in any of the last three quarters while limiting the hosts to 2-of-20 shooting (10%) from three-point range. Unicaja in contrast made 9 of 20 shots (45%) from downtown, with Dani Diez connecting on 3 of those. Jeff Brooks paced the winners with 18 points and Kyle Fogg scored 15. Kevin Jones paced Lokomotiv with 17 points, Taylor Rochestie tallied 14 points and 6 assists and Matt Janning added 10.
Rochestie got the hosts rolling with a long jumper and an assist to Mardy Collins for a 7-2 lead, but Dejan Musli kept Unicaja close. After Brooks drew the visitors within 1, Janning nailed a three and then came up with a steal that led to a Jones basket, a 16-10 advantage and a Unicaja timeout. However a three-point play by Ryan Broekhoff extended the margin to 9. Jamar Smith and Fogg combined for 5 quick points to bring the visitors within 19-15 after 10 minutes. Brooks opened the second quarter with a triple that closed the gap to 1. Collins hooked up with Andrey Zubkov twice – once a bounce pass for a slam and then a full-court toss for a fast-break layup – as Lokomotiv rebuilt its lead. However Unicaja kept close and evened the score at 25-25 on a Diez three midway through the corner. Nemanja Nedovic completed the comeback with a free throw. Rochestie restored Lokomotiv control, but the teams stayed close the rest of the half, which ended with Unicaja up 31-33 after Diez’s second three.
Rochestie and Jones combined for the first 6 points of the second half as Lokomotiv held Unicaja to just a single basket in the first three minutes of the third quarter. However a three by Smith made it 39-38. And back-to-back threes by Fogg and Diez put Unicaja ahead 42-44. Alen Omic sank a pair of free throws to give the visitors a 44-48 edge after three quarters. Unicaja held Lokomotiv without points for more than three minutes while three-point plays by Brooks and Omic and a three-pointer by Adam Waczynski gave the visitors a 44-57 lead. After Lokomotiv got within 8, Fogg heated up with 7 points over three possession to make it 53-66 with three-plus minutes remaining. A bank shot by Nedovic took the advantage to 15 in the penultimate minute as Unicaja held on to take control of the series.