UNICS beats Mornar, reaches Top 16
UNICS Kazan became the first team to mathematically qualify for the 7DAYS EuroCup Top 16 by downing Mornar Bar 90-73 at home on Wednesday. UNICS improved to 5-1 and got its second win against Mornar, which dropped to 1-5. Raymar Morgan led the winners with 22 points on 10-of-12 two-point shooting. Jamar Smith added 13 while Trent Lockett, Errick McCollum and Anton Ponkrashov each scored 12 for UNICS. Uros Lukovic led Mornar with 19 points on 8-of-8 two-point shooting and 12 rebounds. Djordje Drenovac added 11 points and Nemanja Vranes 10 for the visitors.
Drenovac and Antabia Waller shined early to give Mornar a 4-6 lead. The visitors entered the foul bonus and UNICS took full advantage of that - Morgan led a 10-0 run that he capped with free throws for a 14-6 score. Vukota Pavic stepped up for Mornar, but Smith and Ponkrashov each struck from downtown and a tip-in by Maurice Ndour made it a double-digit game, 23-12, after 10 minutes. Morgan stayed unstoppable in the second quarter, getting help from Ponkrashov and Lockett to break the game open at 40-21. Mornar called timeout, but McCollum kept UNICS way ahead, 50-33, at halftime. Lukovic and Waller gave the visitors hope, 52-40, soon after the break. UNICS found a go-to guy in Evgeny Koleshinkov and a layup by Smith broke the game open, 62-42. Smith kept pacing the hosts, as UNICS reached a 25-point margin after 30 minutes. Nothing changed after that, as even through Mornar kept trying and reduced its deficit in the final minutes, UNICS was well on its way to another win that took the team to the next round.
Morgan needed just 13 first-half minutes to score 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting inside the arc and 2 of 2 free throws, allowing UNICS to take a 17-point halftime lead. He finished the game with 22 points and a performance index rating of 24.
Mornar stayed in the game for 14 minutes, 27-18, until Morgan returned to the floor. He had 8 quick points, getting help from Lockett and Ponkrashov to boost the hosts' lead to 40-21. UNICS kept full control of the situation until the final buzzer.
Free throws were one of the key factors in this game - UNICS hit 22 of 25 (88%) and Mornar just 10 of 18 (55.6%). UNICS had 14 steals, tying its second-best mark in the competition. It had 16 steals in a regular season game against Banvit Bandirma on December 21, 2010.
Did you notice?
UNICS has played past the regular season in all of its 11 full seasons in the competition - it joined the competition in the Top 16 once it was eliminated from the 2014-15 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. With this win, UNICS has a 71-19 record. Herbalife Gran Canaria, Valencia Basket and UNICS are tied for most regular season wins in competition history with 71.
Both teams return to EuroCup action next week. UNICS visits Rytas Vilnius on Tuesday, November 13 at 18:00 CET. Mornar hosts Fiat Turin on Wednesday, November 14 at 19:00 CET.
Wednesday, November 7, 2018