Avtodor Surges To 7th Straight Win

Avtodor Saratov defeated Zenit St. Petersburg at home, 90-88. Saratov took control early, leading by eight at the end of the 1st quarter. Zenit clawed its way back, knotting the score several times in the 3rd quarter. But the home team would not be denied, picking up a nine-point lead in the closing minutes and thwarting a final, desperate Zenit comeback.

Despite the defeat, Zenit hangs onto 4th place, above Khimki on winning percentage and half a game in front of surging Avtodor.

Only one win separated these two teams entering Thursday's game (Zenit, 16-6; Avtodor, 15-8). But the St. Petersburg club was not favored, playing on the road against a Saratov team that had won six in a row.

The home team dominated the opening period, holding Zenit to one field goal on their first 10 tries and forcing six turnovers. Avtodor picked up an 11-2 lead in the first four minutes and enjoyed a 19-11 advantage at the end of the 1st quarter.

St. Petersburg continued to struggle from the field and turn the ball over in the 2nd quarter. But Avtodor failed to capitalize on its opportunities, and Janis Timma and Zabian Dowdell were good enough to help Zenit stay within striking distance, 39-31.

The visitors finally got going in the 3rd quarter, ripping off an 8-0 run to knot the score at 39-39. Saratov never let Zenit take the lead, but struggled to regain control and saw its lead slip to five, 62-57, at the end of three quarters.

Despite trailing by as much 10 points in the 4th, Zenit refused to go away. Down nine with less than a minute to play, Zabian Dowdell, Artem Vikhrov and Nikita Barinov combined for nine points on three possessions to cut the deficit to two, 88-86.

Forced to foul, Zenit sent Jeff Brooks to the line with 16 seconds remaining. He connected on both, making it a two-possession game, a hurdle the visitors were unable to overcome.

Star Player
Jeremy Chappell. The Avtodor guard sparked his team's offense in the 4th quarter, helping the home team hold off a spirited Zenit club.

Stat of the Game
11 - number of Zenit turnovers in the 1st quarter. The sluggish start forced Zenit to play from behind the entire contest.