Khimki Sees Déjà Vu In Saratov

Avtodor Saratov defeated Khimki Moscow Region at home, 87-84. Playing in front of 3,500 fans, Avtodor was able to deal Khimki its second-consecutive defeat in the league, surviving two last-chance shots from Alexey Shved and Tyrese Rice that would have forced overtime. Moscow Region drops from 3rd to 5th in the standings, while Saratov moves all alone into 6th place, pending other results today.

Khimki lost at home last week to Nizhny Novgorod, allowing UNICS to pick up a two-and-a-half game cushion in the race for 2nd place. On Sunday, Moscow Region faced another big test, traveling to Saratov where it suffered a 26-point defeat one year ago. Not surprisingly, Avtodor hoped to do the same again in 2016.

The home team dealt the first blow. Avtodor kept Khimki from scoring in the paint, outrebounded the visitors and knocked down several 3-pointers to take a 14-5 lead.

Saratov held onto the lead throughout the first half. Fast break, 3-point shooting and inspired play in the frontcourt keyed the team's success. Khimki couldn't  cope with the tempo, hanging on thanks to some big baskets from Egor Vyaltsev and James Augustine's prowess in the pick-and-roll. The score was Avtodor 44, Khimki 39 at halftime.

The visitors were much better to start the second half. A more aggressive approach on defense helped Khimki pull ahead in the 3rd quarter. 3-point shooting from Sergey Monia, Alexey Shved and Petteri Koponen was also huge and Moscow Region put up 28 points in the period to take a three-point lead (67-64). Avtodor trailed by as much as 11 in the period, before Paul Stoll and Jeremy Chappell combined on back-to-back 3's to make it a more manageable deficit.

Turning Point
The outcome was decided in the final seconds. Saratov did a better job taking care of the ball, pulling ahead by two points with less than a minute to play. Alexey Shved had a chance to send the game to overtime, but traveled with 14 seconds remaining, hounded by Jeremy Chappell on defense. Paul Stoll's miss at the free-throw line gave the visitors another chance, but Tyrese Rice's 3-point attempt came up way short, allowing Avtodor to escape with a win.

Star Player
Jeremy Chappell. His performance in the 3rd quarter laid the foundation for Avtodor's win. The American guard was terrific defensively and knocked down some big shots to get Saratov back in the game. His biggest contribution came in the final seconds when he managed to stop Alexey Shved and preserve the win.

Stat of the Game
25 - The two teams combined for 25 3-pointers. Khimki outshot Avtodor from the perimeter, hitting 14 3's on 48% shooting, compared to 11 on 39% shooting for the home team. But the visitors couldn't get one to fall in final seconds with the game on the line.