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22-point lead not enough to win on the road

Giessen, 2017-07-04

s.Oliver Würzburg was not able to put an end to its string of away losses on the 29th matchday of the easyCredit BBL either: At GIESSEN 46ers, the club from Lower Franconia suffered a bitter last-second 74:77 defeat on Friday evening, despite leading at one stage by 22 points. The deciding bucket from downtown by Andreas Obst, on loan from Bamberg, with two seconds left crowned the home side’s successful comeback. “It’s a pity we weren’t able to reward ourselves for our good performance in the first 35 minutes,” said s.Oliver Würzburg’s Head Coach Dirk Bauermann after the game, in which Würzburg’s captain Krešimir Lončar chalked up a new personal best of 27 points in the German Basketball League.

Apart from the injured Mustafa Shakur, Bauermann was also without Michael Cobbins, who is in the U.S. due to a bereavement in the family, in the “Hell of the East,” which was very quiet for large stretches of the encounter. Yet even with only four foreign players in the squad, it looked for a long time like the visitors might manage to capture their first win on the road since mid-November at Vechta in front of 3,578 spectators, including a small, but loud contingent from Würzburg. s.Oliver Würzburg began with great intensity in defense and a lot of confidence in attack and was able to open up a slight gap in the opening spell (5:11 in the 7th minute). The home side staged a brief comeback to make it 10:11, but Krešimir Lončar and his teammates produced a run of 19 points without reply to surge 10:30 ahead in the 11th minute.

After that, the 46ers put up stiffer resistance, especially through Skyler Bowlin (25 points/5 threes). Yet whatever the club from Central Hesse tried, Würzburg had the right response, in particular in the first half. Gießen first closed the deficit to 18:30 in the 14th minute, then the visitors pulled away again to 22:42 in the 18th minute. After that, there was no significant change in the gap up to the break, when Würzburg went in leading by 29:48 after an amazingly strong first half.

“The players recovered outstandingly from the defeat in Ludwigsburg and showed character,” noted Dirk Bauermann. Krešimir Lončar, who notched up 17 of his 27 points between the 21st and 36th minute, drained his second three right at the start of the third period to make it 29:51 and put Würzburg ahead by its widest margin, 22 points. Even five minutes later, in the 26th minute, the visitors were still 43:63 in front after two more buckets from beyond the arc by their captain. And with the score standing at 54:68 at the end of the third period, there were still really no grounds for concern among the Würzburg fans who had made the journey.

However, the visitors’ game was disrupted after Dwayne Evans, Cameron Wells and Skyler Bowlin with his next three were able to cut the deficit to 63:70 in the opening minutes of the final quarter. Krešimir Lončar put up resistance by draining two jump shots (63:74 in the 36th minute). However, the visitors did not find the right antidote to the 46ers’ increasing intensity in defense in the just over four minutes remaining. The result was several turnovers and a 14:0 run that enabled the home side to capture its fourth straight win against all the odds.

“When you’re having such a measly season as s.Oliver Würzburg has had this year, you lack the confidence you need to be able to win games in tight situations,” was how Dirk Bauermann analyzed the encounter’s crunch time, in which his team could not add to its score. s.Oliver Würzburg now faces two home games in the space of three days: The unbeaten league leaders Ulm come to the s.Oliver Arena on Maundy Thursday, followed by Bremerhaven Polar Bears on Easter Saturday.

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