|Robert Dixon scored 22 points and dished out a team-high six assists|
Pinar Karsiyaka raised a defensive wall in front of Paris Levallois on Tuesday night to clinch an 85-69 triumph in Game 3 of their quarter-final play-off series and claim a place in the EuroChallenge Final Four.
What turned out to be a night of wild celebrations for the 5,000-strong crowd in Karsiyaka Arena and the basketball-mad city of Izmir though had begun with several nail-biting minutes, as the hosts started nervous and Paris scored the first seven points in the encounter.
A three-pointer by Melvin Sanders 5:20 from the first buzzer released Karsiyaka from the pressure and sparked a 12-0 run who gave them both the lead and a five-point cushion, within less than 120 seconds.
The Turkish side never looked back, turning it up a notch on defence and leading 21-8 at the end of the first quarter.
In the 10-minute stretch that followed that first basket by Sanders, spanning the first and second quarters, they had outscored their guests 35 to 5 and had taken the biggest lead of the night, 35-12, with 4:30 left to the end of the first half.
Karsiyaka led 44-26 at half-time but Paris came back from the locker rooms determined to make a last ditch attempt to catch the Final Four train.
Center Sean May, who was returning from injury and had missed Game 2 in the series, spearheaded a Paris comeback attempt that would see them reduce the gap to 60-50 with 1:15 left in the third quarter.
An incredible three-pointer by Robert Dixon right at the third buzzer though restored a 14-point advantage for the hosts.
It also dealt a huge psychological blow on the guests, who would not score another basket until three minutes had elapsed in the final quarter.
From then on, Karsiyaka were simply careful to run the clock down on every possession until the final buzzer, as Paris gradually resigned to their fate.
Power forward William Thomas and point guard Robert Dixon were both phenomenal for the winners, scoring 22 points each, with Thomas also picking up 10 boards to record a double-double.
Sanders also collected a double-double, of 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Abdul Aminu who chipped in with 10 points was the fourth Karsiyaka player to score in double digits.
May meanwhile was the only Paris player to score in double figures and led all scorers with 23 points in defeat.