Rice leads Khimki to road win at Olimpija
Khimki Moscow Region held off Union Olimpija Ljubljana 85-88 for the team’s second victory in as many Group D games. Tyrese Rice scored 22 points and dished 5 assists to lead the visitors’ attack. Khimki road a flurry of Rice points to take a 41-48 halftime advantage and never trailed the rest of the way. Olimpija challenged throughout and clawed its way to within 3 after trailing by 10 midway through the fourth quarter, but was unable to get closer. Joffrey Lauvergne added 16 points for the winners, Marko Popovic scored 14 and James Augustine 11. Mirza Begic scored 18 and blocked 3 shots to lead five Olimpija scorers in double figures as the team slipped to 1-1. Marko Marinovic tallied 15 points and 6 assists, Sasu Salin scored 13, Alen Omic 12 and Blaz Mahkovic 10.
Hristo Nikolov started hot for the hosts with 5 points in a 7-0 opening run. Khimki roared back and took the lead through Lauvergne’s second basket at 9-10. The lead changed hands seven more time in the opening stanza with ties at 16-16 and 18-18. Luka Rupnik free throws but Olimpija ahead before Paul Davis drew Khimki within 23-20 at halftime. Begic boosted the hosts to 27-21, but a fastbreak layup for Rice brought Khimki back within 1. Marko Popovic free throws knotted the game at 31-31 and a Tyler Honeycutt triple put the visitors in front. Rice reeled off 5 straight points to make it 35-41. Omic twice brought Olimpija within 2, but Rice ended the half with a triple and free throws to make it 41-48 at halftime.
The lead jumped to 8 after a Popovic triple early in the second half. Begic helped Olimpija claw within 55-59, but the Khimki offense seemed to always have answers. Marinovic free throws kept the home team within striking distance at 63-67 heading into the fourth quarter. Marinovic netted a triple early in the fourth as Olimpija got within a shot of tying the score. A Lauvergne slam gave Khimki some breathing room at 68-75. A Popovic score extended the difference to 8 midway through the fourth quarter before Honeycutt free throws put the scoreboard at 70-80. After Marinovic free throws closed the gap to 6, a basket-plus-foul was another dagger for Khimki. Mahkovic gave the fans some hope when he drew the hosts within 79-83 with two minutes remaining. However Olimpija did not score over the next minute of game time and Lauvergne free throws put Khimki up 5. The hosts refused to quit and Marinovic sank a three that made it 85-88, but it proved to be too little, too late.