Koponen shoots Khimki past Zenit and into quarterfinals
Petteri Koponen made 6 of 8 three-pointers and totaled 24 points in leading Khimki Moscow Region over Zenit St. Petersburg 89-70 to seep their two-game Eurocup Eighthfinals series. Khimki won Game 1 by 2 points the week before.
A 16-0 run in the first quarter not only gave Khimki the lead for good, but Zenit never got close than 10 after that. It was 46-33 at halftime and the lead peaked at 26 in the fourth quarter as Khimki celebrated a spot in the quarterfinals. Tyrese Rice added 15 points, Egor Vyaltsev scored 13 and Sergey Monia compiled 6 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals. Artem Vikhrov led Zenit with 13 points and 5 assists and Dejan Borovnjak scored 11 in defeat.
Borovnjak scored the game’s first basket for Zenit and Rice got the hosts going with a three-point play. After Vikhrov put the visitors up 3-6, Khimki took charge. Vyaltsev drilled a three and added a tip-in before Monia made it 12-6 after five minutes. Koponen also struck from downtown and Vyaltsev finally capped a 16-0 charge in which Zenit was held scoreless for nearly five minutes. Kyle Landry sank free throws to end the Zenit drought. Koponen added a second three, but Cameroon Jones and Walter Hodge each made free throws for the visitors. James Augustine’s dunk ended the first quarter at 26-11. The teams traded shots early in the second quarter. After Dmitry Kulagin and Rice swapped threes, the score was 37-22 at the midway point in the quarter. The lead reached 18 after a Marko Popovic triple made it 46-28, but Zenit scored the final 5 points of the half, the last bucket coming from Vikhrov, to get within 46-33 at the break.
Vikhrov made it a 10-point game and a 12-point series deficit with a triple to start the second half. However Koponen also hit from downtown and Rice added a three-point play to push the margin back to 18. Ruslan Pateev’s slam extended the difference into the 20s at 60-39. Koponen and Vikhrov traded threes, but Khimki looked to pad its advantage. Augustine made it a 25-point game. After a basket-plus-foul from Dubrovnik, Rice scored to end the third quarter at 73-49. Dmitrii Gordeev scored 5 in a 0-8 Zenit run early in the fourth quarter, but it only narrowed the gap to 77-61. Koponen’s fifth three of the game soon restored a lead in the 20s. The difference reached 26 on another Koponen triple as the hosts closed out the series sweep.