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Würzburg: Game decided with 7.4 seconds to go

Würzburg, 11-23-2019

It was the second thrilling nail-biter of a basketball game in the s.Oliver Arena in the space of just six days – and s.Oliver Würzburg finally lost out to MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg by 84:89 (42:42) in a very intensive and fiercely contested encounter on Saturday evening. Ludwigsburg proved to be slightly cleverer than the home side in crunch time and was also able to exploit a number of slips in concentration in Würzburg’s defense, with the result that it captured its sixth straight win and moved – at least for one evening – to the top of the easyCredit German Basketball League. The game’s top scorer was Khadeen Carrington from MHP RIESEN with 23 points. Five Würzburg players got into double digits: Luke Fischer (20), Junior Etou (15), Jordan Hulls (14), Cameron Wells (12) and Florian Koch (10).

28 assists, just ten turnovers, the better 3-point field goal percentage and also the better free throw percentage: “Those are all figures that mean you win a game eight out of ten times,” said Head Coach Denis Wucherer afterwards. Yet it was not enough this time, in his view mainly due to a lack of focus in defense in the last few minutes: “We didn’t manage at the death to keep Ludwigsburg’s strong one-on-one players out of the paint like we had done pretty well up to then.”

Right from the tip-off, the crowd in Würzburg’s home cauldron saw a typical game of runs in which neither side was able to open up a decisive advantage until the final few seconds. The first half indicated that the encounter would be close and tense down to the wire. After a lightning start by the visitors from Ludwigsburg, where Khadeen Carrington and Nick Weiler-Babb drained the first two buckets from downtown (2:8 in the 3rd minute), the home side produced a run of 12 points without reply that really fired up the arena (14:8 in the 6th minute). s.Oliver Würzburg stretched its lead to 24:15 shortly before the end of the first period, also thanks to six points from Junior Etou. Before the end of the first quarter, the club from Swabia cut the deficit to 24:20 through Tanner Leisner and after another three by Nick Weiler-Babb and, thanks to a 12:3 run straddling the periods, the game was completely evenly poised again in the 13th minute.

Both sides fought intensely, as demonstrated by a skirmish shortly after the beginning of the second period, which led the referees to impose three technical fouls – on Würzburg’s Junior Etou and Ludwigsburg’s Marcos Knight and Khadeen Carrington. Jordan Hulls added three free throws to make it 27:22, but the third bucket from beyond the arc by Weiler-Babb and a lay-up from Carrington tied the scores right away (27:27). The game continued in that vein up to half-time, when the two teams went in tied at 42:42.

The encounter remained tight in the third quarter, before s.Oliver Würzburg was able to open up a gap again thanks to a 9:0 run: Cameron Wells drained a three with the score at 47:47, after which Luke Fischer was set up in textbook fashion by Junior Etou and then by Victor Rudd. The 2.11-meter man added a lay-up and a slam-dunk and also made the bonus free throw – the club from Lower Franconia was nine points in front for the second time in the encounter (56:47 in the 25th minute).

Ludwigsburg struck back right away and needed less than two minutes to equalize again (56:56 in the 28th minute). The third period ended with the score standing at 62:60, when the visitors again – for the third time in the encounter – had the last successful attack of a quarter, scoring this time with a three from Carrington.

The game remained on a knife’s edge at the start of the final period (69:69 in the 33rd minute), but then the visitors were able to open up a clearer gap for the first time since the start. Their lead was eight points (73:81) with two-and-a-half minutes to go, but it soon dwindled to 79:81 thanks to Würzburg’s run of six points without reply. The game then became really dramatic in the final 88 seconds – and it was the visitors who would come out on top. After Jordan Hulls drained a three to make it 84:85, Khadeen Carrington added two free throws (84:87). Würzburg then had the ball, but in a controversial scene the referees adjudged that Cameron Wells had committed an offensive foul on Konstantin Konga, as a result of which Ludwigsburg was awarded possession and Nick Weiler-Babb was able to make two more free throws and add the final points of the game with 7.4 seconds remaining.

Denis Wucherer, Head Coach of s.Oliver Würzburg, commented: “We had 28 assists and conceded just ten turnovers, made 40 percent of our threes, kept the opposing side to a 3-point field goal percentage of 35, and stepped up to the foul line 25 times. Those are all figures that mean you win a game eight out of ten times. But not when your two centers snap up a combined total of just two rebounds in 35 minutes and you don’t manage at the death to keep Ludwigsburg’s strong one-on-one players out of the paint like we had done pretty well up to then. In the last three or four minutes of the game, there were five or six one-on-one actions by Carrington, Smith and Weiler-Babb and they were easily able to get to the basket without any resistance or my players helping each other out. We lost because Ludwigsburg made simple points in crunch time and also had enough free throws in the second half.”

Just three days after the dramatic home encounter against MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg, s.Oliver Würzburg now faces just as tough a nut to crack on the road: In a game brought forward from the 10th match day, the club from Lower Franconia travels to the only venue where it has never won in the easyCredit German Basketball League. The tip-off in Bamberg’s Brose Arena is at 7 p.m.