Two weeks after the 86:80 victory in Gießen, s.Oliver Würzburg again won on the road at the start of the second half of the season in the easyCredit German Basketball League: The team of Head Coach Dirk Bauermann ran out deserved winners by 86:78 against Mitteldeutscher BC on Sunday afternoon. Top scorer Robin Benzing (26 points/11 rebounds) and his side took a crucial lead shortly before the end of the first half. After the break, the club from Lower Franconia stretched its lead to 11 points at one stage and after that did not let its tenth victory of the season slip from its grasp.
Even though Würzburg won all four periods and deserved its victory, it was still hard work before its fourth away win of the season was under wraps. In the first half, the 2,100 spectators in the Stadthalle Weißenfels saw a game that was evenly poised for a long time and in which all nine of the s.Oliver Würzburg players used scored, while the home side’s Lamont Jones in particular put up stiff resistance. The shooting guard scored 18 of his 24 points and four of his six buckets from downtown in the first twenty minutes. He accounted for nine of the MBC’s first 11 points and so almost single-handedly put the Wolves 11:7 in front in the sixth minute. It was the home side’s highest lead in the entire encounter, but not its last. The lead would change hands another eight times until shortly before the end of the first half – for the last time in the 19th minute: After Lamont Jones put his team 44:43 ahead with a further three, the visitors opened up a 46:50 gap in the final 100 seconds before the break thanks to two free throws by captain Kresimir Loncar, a three by E.J. Singler and a jump shot from Robin Benzing.
“It was important we had a good run at the end of the second period and were able to go in at the break with a four-point lead. We came out again all the stronger and then built a cushion in the third period,” said the captain of the German national team afterwards. The “cushion” was created right after the break by Maurice Stuckey with five points and Benzing himself with a further five points: He completed a three-point play to make it 49:60 in the 23rd minute after the MBC’s Head Coach Igor Jovovic had called a timeout. Just over a minute later, it was again Robin Benzing who gave his side the highest lead of the evening with a three-pointer (51:63 in the 24th minute).
The visitors maintained their double-digit lead until shortly before the end of the third period (56:66 in the 29th minute), after which Djordje Drenovac and Marcus Hatten started a comeback by the Wolves with four free throws to make the score 60:66. The encounter became really tense again after the first five minutes of the final quarter: Since Würzburg had no success in attack apart from two free throws by Benzing and a lay-up from Stuckey, the Wolves cut the gap to just two points again after Lamont Jones’ sixth bucket from outside (68:70 in the 35th minute). Dirk Bauermann called a timeout to settle his players – with success: A short spurt to make it 70:77 in the 37th minute decided the encounter.
All the same, the game remained tense right to the final minute: With 23 seconds left on the clock, Marcus Hatten drained a three to cut the deficit to 78:82. However, Würzburg’s tenth win of the season was no longer in danger after that: Cliff Hammonds with two free throws and Owen Klassen with a slam-dunk made the final score 78:86 after Bauermann had called another timeout. s.Oliver Würzburg’s third victory in succession means it remains in close contention just below the playoff spots in the table. League leaders FC Bayern Munich come to the s.Oliver Arena this Friday for a north versus south Bavarian derby – the first home game in the second half of the season is already completely sold out and tips off at 8:30 p.m.
Dirk Bauermann, Head Coach of s.Oliver Würzburg, noted: “It’s always wonderful to play in this great, yet very fair atmosphere here in Weißenfels. The game could have ended up going the other way. The MBC invested an incredible amount of energy in the final spell to try and turn the game around. That’s why we’re happy to have won this tough away game. We had to summon up all we had to decide the encounter in our favor against a well-coached and strong team.”