Zenit Advances To Final Four At Avtodor’s Expense

Zenit Advances To Final Four At Avtodor’s Expense

Zenit St. Petersburg defeated Avtodor Saratov on the road in Game 3, 90-78 (24-16, 17-21, 29-23, 20-18).

Top Scorers
Avtodor: Micah Downs (16 + 6 reb + 5 ast), Coty Clarke (14 + 8 reb), Shaq McKissic (12), Ian Hummer (12)

Zenit: Kyle Kuric (31 + 6 reb), Evgeny Voronov (20), Demonte Harper (14)

Zenit wasted no time joining Khimki in the Final Four, seizing control of Game 3 with a dazzling 3rd-quarter performance from guard Kyle Kuric to sweep the series, 3-0. 

The visitors led virtually from start to finish, knocking down four 3-pointers in the 1st quarter to jump in front by eight, 24-16. 

On the brink of elimination, Avtodor fought back, overcoming an 14-point deficit early in the 2nd quarter to pull to within four at halftime. 

The home team stayed hot to begin the second half. Coty Clarke and Shaq McKissic drilled triples and McKissic added a fast-break dunk after picking off a pass from Sergey Karasev. 

But Avtodor had no answer for Kyle Kuric. The American sharpshooter scored 16 of his game-high 31 points in the 3rd quarter, to single-handedly will Zenit back into the lead. 

Kuric’s final two points of the quarter gave his team a 59-53 lead with two and a half minutes remaining. His teammates took care of the rest, stretching the advantage to 10 at the end of the period.

Avtodor continued to battle in the 4th, but the visitors’ depth wore them down. Robinson, Downs and Clarke–Saratov’s three stars–each played more than 30 minutes–while Zenit had no one with more than 26 minutes on the court. 

Ian Hummer tried to rally the home team, scoring on back-to-back possessions with six minutes on the clock to cut the deficit to eight, 76-68. But Kuric slammed the door shut for good, knocking down a pair of free throws to go with a layup that stretched the lead back to 12. 

Zenit cruised the rest of the way, securing a 90-78 win to complete the series sweep and advance to the Final Four. Avtodor’s season–the best in club history–comes to an end in the quarterfinals.

Kyle Kuric. The St. Petersburg sniper’s performance in the 3rd quarter shifted the momentum in the game and helped Zenit secure the win. His 31 points also set a playoff record for most points scored off the bench. 

61-25 – Zenit’s reserves were completely dominant. Like Game 1, when Sergey Karasev provided a boost off the bench, Kuric and Voronov combined for 51 in Game 3. 

Zenit head coach Vasily Karasev:
– Today’s game was probably the toughest one of the series. We played pretty well and grabbed a 14-point lead, but then a lot of the guys relaxed. We took rushed shots, and unlike the first two games, stopped being aggressive on defense and the glass. Give Avtodor credit, they didn’t quit and kept fighting and chipping away at the lead. The most important thing is that we managed to win and advance to the Final Four. 

Avtodor head coach Evgeny Pashutin:
– Unfortunately, the quarterfinal round is over for us. We tried to compete today. We had success in some quarters, but not so much in others. When we played good defense, we were able to handle Zenit’s snipers, control the rebounding, run fast breaks and play balanced offense. As soon as we stopped defending, the visitors had opportunities for open looks. We couldn’t handle Voronov and Kuric. During the first two quarters, Voronov scored 14 points, while Kuric had 16 in the 3rd quarter. He finished with 31 points, including a lot of easy baskets. We also couldn’t stop the drive. Our big men needed to play higher-quality defense and do a better job of meeting the opposition. At times, we rushed on offense and took unprepared shots. Nonetheless, I want to thank the guys for the season. They did themselves credit. 

Images of the Game

29/05/2018 Avtodor-Zenit 78:90