Nizhny Tops Kalev Again

Nizhny Novgorod defeated Kalev at home, 80-66. The game mimicked the meeting between these two teams in Tallinn last week. The underdogs from Estonia kept the score close for 30 minutes, before Nizhny pulled away in the final period to sweep the season series.

Nizhny picked up a win in Tallinn last week, helping the Russian club improve to 7-3 over its last 10. Kalev, on the other hand, dropped to 15th with the defeat.

The frontcourt battle highlighted the action in the 1st quarter. Vladimir Ivlev (10 points) and Shawn King (seven points) went toe-to-toe, though Nizhny guard Evgeny Baburin was the x-factor, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers to put his team on top, 26-19, at the end of the period.

Two driving layups from Victor Zaryazhko gave the home team a double-digit lead early in the 2nd quarter. Kalev responded by forcing several turnovers and feeding the ball to Rain Veideman, who connected on three straight jumpers to make it a seven-point game. At halftime, Kalev trailed 42-35, within easy striking distance.

Identical to last week's game, Nizhny Novgorod held a five-point lead at the end of the 3rd quarter. After winning the period by a score of 20-18, the visitors were poised to challenge for an upset in the 4th quarter.

Early in the final period, it looked like Kalev would do exactly that. Mario Delas opened the 4th with back-to-back baskets and Shawn King put the visitors on top, 61-60, connecting on a jumper with just over seven minutes to play.

Turning Point
Needing an answer, Nizhny got one from Ivan Strebkov. The Russian guard drained a huge '3' with 6:36 to play, giving Nizhny the lead. The home team never looked back, ripping off a 12-1 run, capped by another Strebkov '3'. Leading by 10, Nizhny coasted the rest of the way, knocking off Kalev for the second time in eight days.

Star Player
Victor Rudd. At the end of the 1st quarter, Rudd had to leave the game briefly because of an injury. But he returned in the 2nd quarter and willed his team to victory down the stretch, posting a big double-double (15 points, 14 rebounds) to go with five assists. 

Stat of the Game
14 - Nizhny's margin of victory, matching the win in Tallinn on February 28 (91-77).