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s.Oliver Würzburg turns the game in Jena around in the final six minutes to win

Jena, 03-31-2019

A power-packed performance at the death enabled s.Oliver Würzburg to defend its spot among the top eight teams on the 26th game day of the easyCredit German Basketball League: A run of eight points without reply in the final 91 seconds of the encounter on the road at Science City Jena gave it a narrow 82:78 victory on Saturday. In an eventful and changeable encounter, the team of Head Coach Denis Wucherer caught up after trailing by 12 points on two occasions in the second half. “At the end we found the key to victory and got a better grip on our opponents in defense,” said Wucherer afterwards. The game’s top scorer was Julius Jenkins, who chalked up 25 points, including six buckets from beyond the arc, for the home side. Five Würzburg players got into double digits: Cameron Wells (17), Xavier Cooks (14), Jordan Hulls (13), Gabriel Olaseni (11) and Devin Oliver (10).

It was s.Oliver Würzburg’s third game in the space of six days, whereas the home side went into the encounter after a break of nine days since its defeat in Ludwigsburg on March 20 – and that was also noticeable in some spells, for example when the home side defended with a lot of energy and went 12:6 ahead after just over five minutes thanks to eight points (including two threes) by the former Würzburg player Dru Joyce. The visitors struck back with eight points at the board and from the foul line through Devin Oliver and Gabriel Olaseni, after which Jordan Hulls and Brad Lösing drained two shots from outside to turn the game around for the first time at the end of the opening period (17:20).

The second quarter went much the same: Jena initially pulled 38:32 ahead in the 17th minute thanks to its far better 3-point field goal percentage, but then Wucherer’s players cut the deficit in half by the break (43:39). The home side also benefited in the first half from its superiority at the boards, as evidenced by the ten offensive rebounds it was able to snap up. Science City Jena also got off to the more resolute start in the second half: For just over the first five minutes of the third period, s.Oliver Würzburg was hardly able to finish an attack successfully (apart from a bucket from downtown by Skyler Bowlin) and so the home side opened up a double-digit gap for the first time (60:48 in the 28th minute).

The club from Franconia then launched its second comeback: Jordan Hulls sparked a 14:0 run straddling the periods with a three in the 29th minute and Cameron Wells likewise drained a shot from beyond the arc to make it 60:62. Jena hit back right away and now likewise produced a run of 14 points without reply in the Sparkassen Arena. 12 of them were notched up by Julius Jenkins, including three successive buckets from outside to make it 74:62. Yet the players of s.Oliver Würzburg were not thrown off their stride by the renewed 12-point deficit. After Wucherer called a timeout in the 34th minute, they managed to turn around the game again because they subsequently took Julius Jenkins out of the game completely and only conceded four points (two lay-ups by Reggie Williams and Derrick Allen) in the remaining 6:17 minutes.

After a 10:0 run by Würzburg to cut the gap to 74:72, Derrick Allen made it 78:74 in the 38th minute – but they were to be the home side’s last points in the encounter. Jordan Hulls tied the scores at 78:78 with a three plus a bonus free throw with 91 seconds left on the clock and Cameron Wells snatched the lead for his side with a lay-up a little later (78:80). With eight seconds to go before the final buzzer, Xavier Cooks got his finger to an attempt by Reggie Williams and so prevented the home side from equalizing again, after which Gabriel Olaseni drained two free throws at the other end to give s.Oliver Würzburg its 13th win of the season.

Denis Wucherer noted:

“We’re pleased to have captured this important victory today. We’re now entering the finishing straight in the German league season and want to keep in contention for the playoffs. When a team’s as tired as we are, it needs to play smartly to win. We didn’t manage that today – Jena played far more cleverly. They were also coached far more cleverly. That’s why we needed 35 minutes to find the key to victory and get a better grip in defense and, of course, on Julius Jenkins in particular. We then won the game at the death with a bit of luck and also with some common-sense play. Every game’s extremely important and we face a tough remaining program in the battle for a playoff spot. And we also have the chance of the title in a European competition. The next objective is to get everything out of us and show the cleverness we need at home against Frankfurt and Bremerhaven to capture two victories that will hopefully help us advance to the playoffs.”