Zenit Denies UNICS In St. Pete

Zenit St. Petersburg defeated UNICS Kazan at home, 82-67, in Game 3 of the playoff semifinals. Vasily Karasev's club charged to a 16-point lead at halftime, led by Ryan Toolson's 10 points. Kazan cut the deficit to two early in the 4th quarter, but a strong finish from the home team ensured a Game 4 in St. Petersburg.

Playing at home for the first time in the series, Zenit was determined to force a Game 4. St. Petersburg also welcomed leading scorer Ryan Toolson back to the lineup, who had to leave Game 1 in Kazan with an injury.

Toolson did not disappoint, scoring 10 points in the first half and sparking Zenit's 2nd-quarter outburst. The American guard scored and distributed, recording assists on two Zenit 3-pointers.

UNICS, meanwhile, struggled to find its rhythm on offense and found itself trailing 48-32 at the break.

UNICS was a different team in the second half. Playing with more aggression and desire, Kazan liquidated Zenit's offense, limiting the home team to 10 points in the 3rd quarter. Keith Langford and Quino Colom took care of the scoring, bringing UNICS within two points, 58-56, at the beginning of the 4th.

Zenit, however, refused to let the game slip away. Toolson and co. responded, holding the visitors to two points during a 5+ minute stretch in the quarter. The lead back in double digits, St. Petersburg cruised to a victory in the final minutes, forcing a Game 4 at home!

Star Player
Ryan Toolson. Zenit's leading scorer started the game on the bench, but needed little time to prove just how much the team missed him. He played a big role in both Zenit spurts and finished with 23 points, four rebounds and five assists.

Stat of the Game
20 points - Zenit's largest lead, before UNICS cut it to two late in the game.

Zenit head coach Vasily Karasev:
- I felt like the game was similar to the first meeting in Kazan. We led by 15 points in the first half when the players were fresh and pushing the pace. The difference was that we had Toolson on offense and Pushkov on defense at the end. That, plus the rotation, aggressive defense and a rested Toolson, who took over after Dowdell and Timma exerted themselves earlier. They are playing with injuries and fighting through pain. Thank you to them. They come out and compete. That's the most important thing on our team. Even with injuries, the guys want to play, which is why they win.

UNICS head coach Evgeny Pashutin:
- We expected that Zenit would push the pace and play aggressively from the start. Once again, we were okay with an up-tempo game, which isn't our style at all. We didn't learn from the two previous games. That's our fault. We missed a lot of shots and got burned on fast breaks. We didn't play with our heads. Then we got back in the game after trailing by 20 points, but we ran out of steam at the end.