CSKA Moscow defeated Nizhny Novgorod at home, 84-78 (20-23, 26-18, 20-23, 18-14).
CSKA: Will Clyburn (19 + 8 reb), Ivan Ukhov (13), Othello Hunter (12 + 6 reb), Sergio Rodriguez (11 + 5 ast)
Nizhny Novgorod: Anton Astapkovich (14 + 5 reb), Artem Komolov (13), Dmitry Uzinsky (12), Ilya Popov (12), Kendrick Perry (12 + 6 ast)
Nizhny Novgorod gave the reigning champs all they could handle on Saturday, but CSKA ultimately came away with a win, led by a big game from Will Clyburn (19 points and eight rebounds) and 39 made free throws.
The visitors out-rebounded and out-assisted CSKA with five different players scoring in double digits, but shaky offense in the 4th quarter sank Nizhny’s upset hopes.
Indeed, the first five minutes of the final frame proved decisive, despite a distinct lack of offense from both teams.
Nizhny’s Anton Astapkovich had drained two triples, one late in the 3rd quarter and one to begin the 4th, cutting CSKA’s lead to two, 69-67, with 8:49 remaining. But then Nizhny’s offense went cold.
Despite holding CSKA scoreless for nearly four minutes, the visitors failed to capitalize, shooting 0-5 from the field to go with a turnover during the stretch.
CSKA’s Will Clyburn finally made Nizhny pay, converting a three-point play before a fast-break layup from Ivan Ukhov stretched the Moscow lead to seven, 74-67.
Nizhny hung around. Trailing by five with 13 seconds remaining, the visitors had a chance to strike after Clyburn was whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul. But Ivan Strebkov missed one of two free throws, preserving CSKA’s two-possession lead and ultimately the win.
39-16 – CSKA outscored Nizhny Novgorod by 23 at the free-throw line.
CSKA head coach Dimitris Itoudis: “Congratulations to the team on the win. Certainly, having to play two games in such a short stretch of time with almost no opportunity to prepare affected us. There’s nothing you can do. That’s the schedule. The game was rough. Obviously, most teams going up against us play like that and they are entitled to do so. We took 46 free throws today, but I think we should have had 86. I call on everyone to watch this game again with me and be convinced. At the same time, many of the fouls could have ended in an injury. Someone needs to draw some conclusions on that count. As for the game, Nizhny Novgorod played very well. They had nothing to lose and had a chance to prepare, which the team took advantage of. We treated our opponent with respect.”
Nizhny Novgorod head coach Zoran Lukic: “This was a very interesting game for the fans. Nizhny Novgorod competed as a worthy opponent. I think we lost in the 2nd quarter, when we gave up an 8-0 run. We battled to the end. It was tough. If you look at the stats, we were better in rebounds and assists. We made a few more turnovers and did not have as many free throws. Nonetheless, we gave everything we had and I left the arena today with my head held high.”
CSKA: October 22 home vs. Kalev
Nizhny Novgorod: October 20 away vs. Tsmoki-Minsk