Dynamo St Petersburg ended Azovmash's FIBA Europe League season on Friday night in Mariupol. The Russian side put on a clinical fourth quarter display, outscoring Azovmash 9-0 in the final 3 minutes to take what had been a close contest.
In an electric atmosphere in Mariupol, the 2,5000 fans in attendance saw a great effort from their team in a do-or-die situation.
The first quarter got off to a quick start and it was evident that neither side would give in without a fight. Ed Cota (Dynamo) and Art Long (Azovmash) proved themselves as the leaders of their respective teams, and went on to trade baskets throughout the first period.
|Dynamo's Kelly McCarty|
With the score deadlocked at 20-20 at the start of the second period it was anyone's game. Thanks to Long's all-around solid play (20 points, 12 rebounds in 20 minutes) Azovmash took a slim 38-33 lead in the middle of the quarter. At this point fearing that the lead would increase, the guests put on a full-court man-to-man press shortly before the end of the quarter. The resulting 14-2 run gave them a 40-47 lead at the half.
The third quarter was played out in much the same fashion with either side trading baskets and no one being able to establish a clear advantage. Both teams dropped 21 points in the third quarter and therefore Dynamo was up 61-68 with ten minutes to play in this decisive game.
Midway through the fourth quarter Dynamo was able to increase their lead to nine points, but when Long stepped up and drilled a three-pointer and Petro Podtykan added a spark off the bench, the score was once again locked at 72-72 with three minutes remaining.
Unfortunately for Azovmash despite the noisy home crowd cheering them on, they would go scoreless for the rest of the game as Dynamo went on a 9-0 run to close out the game on top 72-81.
The win is Dynamo's 18th consecutive of the FIBA Europe League season. 2004 winners Unics Kazan dropped just one game on their way to the title, but if Dynamo win their next 2 games (the semi-final and final), they will complete the season undefeated.
Long led Azovmash with an impressive double-double (32 pts and 18 rebounds). Kelly McCarty had a team high 17 points for Dynamo.