Zenit Loses In OT Again, Nizhny Continues Playoff Push

Zenit Loses In OT Again, Nizhny Continues Playoff Push

Nizhny Novgorod defeated Zenit St. Petersburg at home in overtime, 85-83 (17-26, 15-18, 25-18, 17-12, 11-9).

Top Scorers
Nizhny Novgorod: Evgeny Baburin (22), Kendrick Perry (18 + 6 reb + 10 ast), Ian Hummer (12 + 6 reb), Vladimir Dragicevic (12 + 13 reb)

Zenit: Jalen Reynolds (25 + 6 reb), Philip Scrubb (13), Codi Miller-McIntyre (11 + 5 ast)

Zenit lost its second straight game in overtime, coughing up a 12-point lead at halftime to Nizhny Novgorod on the road. 

The home team has now won four of five and seven of its last nine to move above .500 (9-8) for the first time this season. 

For the first 20 minutes, it looked like the visitors would cruise to victory. Zenit scored the first nine points of the game, punctuated by a signature dunk from Jalen Reynolds, who finished with a game-high 25 points. 

St. Petersburg led by double digits most of the first half, stretching its lead to 44-29 with less than a minute remaining in the 2nd quarter. 

But Nizhny’s Artem Komolov knocked down a triple at the buzzer and the home team carried the momentum into the 3rd quarter.

Zoran Lukic’s club traded baskets for the first five minutes of the second half, but back-to-back triples from Kendrick Perry and Evgeny Baburin finally cut the deficit to four (55-51), setting the stage for an exciting finish. 

Trailing by seven, 70-63, after a Miller-McIntyre 3-pointer with 4:30 to play in the 4th quarter, Nizhny went on a 9-2 run that knotted the score at 72-72. 

With two and a half minutes to go, both teams went cold on offense. Baburin tied the score again at 74-apiece with only a few seconds left.

Zenit had a chance to win in regulation, but Sean Armand turned the ball over and Nizhny’s Kendrick Perry ended up with the final shot, his 3-pointer missing to send the game into overtime. 

Nizhny Novgorod took its first lead of the game, 77-76, one and a half minutes into the extra period. The next few minutes featured several lead changes, but eventually Nizhny took control with back-to-back buckets that stretched its lead to three, 84-81.

The home team committed a strategic foul on Zenit’s next possession and was able to close out the win with an Ian Hummer free throw and Anton Astapkovich rebound, 85-83. 

Nizhny Novgorod now trails Zenit by only one game for 6th place, while St. Petersburg’s hopes of a top-four finish and home-court advantage in the quarterfinals appear to be fading. 

2 – Zenit has now lost back-to-back games in overtime, first to VEF before the All-Star break and now to Nizhny Novgorod. 

Zenit head coach Joan Plaza: “Today we proved once again that we can only win when we give 100% on the court. We aren’t talented enough yet to play our game for three quarters and then hang on at the end. 

We committed 20 mistakes today, which is completely unacceptable for a team contending for a top spot. Even if you take away the 20 turnovers, you’d have 15 rebounds we gave up on the defensive glass. We did not deserve to win with those numbers.

Yes, some of our players only just returned from injuries, but that’s not an excuse. Instead of maintaining focus for the entire game, we let them score several easy baskets at the end. You can’t forget when you’re up 10 that you need to build the lead to 20; if you’re up 30, push it 40, etc. Today, my players stopped at a certain point thinking the lead was enough and paid for it.”

Nizhny Novgorod head coach Zoran Lukic: “I thanked my guys in the locker room for the win. We had to earn it today. We started poorly. Like I said before the game, we looked like an out-of-tune piano. We didn’t get better in the second half. We made the same mistakes, but we just gave more energy. There were a lot of misses from the free throw line. Still, great job! Their win today was something special.” 


01/02/2019 Nizhny Novgorod-Zenit 85:83