Cory Higgins scored from the lane with 5.7 seconds left to give CSKA Moscow a thrilling, series-clinching 88-89 win over Khimki Moscow Region in Game 4 of their series on Friday.
The dramatic finish gave CSKA a 3-1 victory in the series and punched its ticket to the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four for the seventh straight season, and the 15th in the last 16. CSKA controlled the game for the first three quarters and led by as many as 17 points, 52-69, midway through the third. But Alexey Shved was on fire, hitting 8 three-pointers to lead a Khimki rally. Back-to-back threes from Sergey Monia and Shved gave the hosts an 87-85 lead with 61 seconds to go. However, CSKA had more nerves in the final moments to pull out the victory. Higgins finished with 20 points, while Andrey Vorontsevich added 15. Other CSKA double-digit scorers were Sergio Rodriguez with 14, Semen Antonov with 13, and Will Clyburn with 12. Shved finished the game with a career-high 36 points, a new playoffs single-game record, and hit a playoffs record 8 triples on 12 attempts. He also dished 6 assists and pulled down 5 rebounds. Khimki’s only other double-digit scorer was James Anderson with 10 points.
Both teams were in great offensive rhythm from the get-go. Shved hit a couple of early triples, but CSKA scored a series of close-range baskets, including Othello Hunter’s fastbreak dunk. James Anderson drove the baseline to make it 10-9, but CSKA answered with 8 points in 22 seconds, run started with a three-pointer from Cory Higgins, continued with a fastbreak dunk from Antonov and was capped by Nikita Kurbanov's three-point play. Sergey Monia answered with a three-pointer and Charles Jenkins scored a basket-plus-free throw to get Khimki within 16-17. However, in the last 4 minutes of the first quarter, Higgins, Will Clyburn and Antonov each hit a three-pointer to make it 25-32 after 10 minutes. Antonov opened the second quarter with another three-pointer to increase CSKA's lead to 10 points. The scoring pace slowed as both teams came up with several defensive stops. The visitors kept their double-digit lead from the free throw line and opened it to 31-45 midway through the quarter. Egor Vialtsev had a long jumper and Anthony Gill a dunk for the hosts before Vorontsevich and Shved traded triples to make it 38-48. Leo Westermann made a runner and Vorontsevich downed a dunk as CSKA surged ahead 39-54 in penultimate minute of the first half. Honeycutt hit a corner three that Sergio Rodriguez answering with one of his own in the final seconds for a 44-57 score at halftime.
Antonov started second half with a three-pointer to open a 16-point margin for CSKA, but a pair of baskets from Anderson cut it to 50-60. CSKA scored the next 7 points as Rodriguez hit a step-back three at 52-69, but Shved scored as many points in two possession, hitting a pair of threes and a free throw. Gill banked in a shot and Shved nailed a long jumper to cap an 11-0 Khimki run and Stefan Markovic drove for a last-second layup to make it 65-71 going into fourth quarter. Markovic hit a three-pointer to get Khimki within 3 points, but Clyburn answered with a three of his own to snap a 16-2 Khimki run. Vorontsevich followed with a corner triple to give CSKA breathing room at 68-77. A fastbreak layup from Higgins restored a double-digit margin and Vorontsevich hit another triple to make it 68-82. But Shved stepped up again, sinking two more from long range, with a Malcolm Thomas put-back in between, to help cut the difference to 81-83. Clyburn had a put-back, but Monia hit a three-pointer then Shved hit his eighth with 1:01 left, putting Khimki ahead 87-85, its first lead since the game's first basket. Rodriguez made 2 of 2 free throws to tie it before Gill only split his foul shots to make it 88-87. CSKA got the ball to Higgins, who made a shot from the lane with 5.7 seconds left to put CSKA back in front, 88-89. Khimki had a final possession, but Monia’s long three-point attempt did not come close, prompting big CSKA celebrations.