Clutch Higgins leads CSKA past Fenerbahce

2019-03-21T20:05:20+00:00 2019-03-21T20:29:25+00:00.

Dionysis Aravantinos

21/Mar/19 20:05

CSKA Moscow delivered down the stretch against Fenerbahce, making a statement.

By Eurohoops Team /

In the top-seeded showdown in Moscow, CSKA defeated Fenerbahce BEKO Istanbul 70 – 68 in a tight contest, thanks to Cory Higgins’ clutch performance. Currently, the Russian team is one game back from Zeljko Obradovic‘s squad, but despite the win, Fener holds the tiebreaker, as in the first game between the two teams, the Turkish team had won by four points. The hosts improved to a 22-6 record, while the visitors fell to 23-5.

CSKA was leading 65-64 with a minute remaining, as Cory Higgins and Jan Vesely were exchanging buckets in the final two minutes. With 50 seconds on the clock, Nicolo Melli made 1/2 free-throws and the game was tied. Higgins, however scored a vital and clutch three-pointer, that put the hosts up by three-points (68-65). Clyburn’s free-throws made it a two-possession game (70-66) and Fener could not respond. Thanks to Kostas Sloukas‘ shot in the final possession though, Fener won the tiebreaker.

Higgins finished the contest with 15 points, seven of which came in the final two minutes. Will Clyburn was also clutch, on both ends of the court, adding 16 points and eight rebounds.

“It was an amazing performance,” said head coach Dimitris Itoudis after the contest. “As I promised, the games we play against Fenerbache have always been clutch and decided in the last moments. Always decided by a tip or this basket or that basket or that big defense. So we had all that was needed. Especially in the second half my players were very decisive and determined on both ends. We tried to work also on the difference, tried to grab the win by more points. It was not possible, but they deserve congratulations. We beat two back-to-back strong opponents, both playoff teams high in the standings, first and fourth place. So we are just going out of this bottled life.”

The first half was competitive, as both teams focused on their defense. Fener was up by eight points (27-35), but CSKA went on a 9-0 run to end the first half on a high note (36-35).

The second period run did not end there. The ‘Army Team’ was impressive at the start of the second half, as they went up by seven points (46-39). In the first three quarters, Obradovic‘s side was shooting poorly from beyond the arc, knocking down just two three-pointers (2/16 3FG).

With Ali Muhammed‘s miracle three-pointer in the fourth quarter, Fener tied the game at 54 and everything was set to be decided in the final five minutes.

From the losing side, Nikola Kalinic had an impressive showing with 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

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