Minsk Cling On To Beat Bears

28 January 2014

34. Keith Benson Jr (Tsmoki Minsk)
Keith Benson Jr paved the way for Minsk with a game-high 25 points

Tsmoki Minsk clung on at the finish to claim an 83-76 victory over Bakken Bears Aarhus in Group L of the EuroChallenge.

A fourth quarter rally fell narrowly short for the Bears as they closed a 16-point gap to four inside the final five minutes.

Keith Benson Jr poured in 25 points as Minsk moved to 2-1 while keeping the Bears winless in the Last 16.

The Bears had begun well, leading 14-6 when Morten Sahlertz sank a three-pointer in the early going, and they stayed in front until midway through the second quarter.

But after Minsk used a 10-0 run to take a 24-20 lead on Demonte Harper's three-pointer, they never trailed again.

They gradually edged clear through the third period and threatened to run away with it as a 10-2 run in the fourth powered them to a 74-58 bulge on Pavel Ulyanko's three-pointer, but the Bears rallied to avoid a rout.

They scored the next 11 points unanswered, capping the spurt with Brandon Penn's three to get within five points, and when Kenneth Barker hit a three with 41 seconds left it was 76-72 to Minsk.

The visitors held their nerve as they were repeatedly sent to the line in the final seconds, with Branko Mirkovic and Harper making the free throws that clinched the victory.

Mirkovic finished with 12 points while Ulyanko had 10.

Barker led the Bears with 19 points as Penn added 16 with nine rebounds.


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