The first half of the game went tit for tat, with neither side managing to gain any momentum to take control. In the first ten minutes, University of Tartu had managed to jump ahead by six, but that margin was reduced to just two points before the quarter ended.
The second quarter was just as much Tanel Sokk against Vaidotas Volkus, as it was Tartu against Kedainiai. Sokk scored 10 points for the Estonian club, while Volkus responded with 8 of his own in the second period alone. Nevertheless, it was still just one point between the two clubs.
After the break, Nevezis seemed to be the better side by a slight margin, as they slowly built their lead up to 12 points. While it already seemed like a done deal, Tartu were not ready to give up just yet.
It turned into a thriller of the highest caliber in the final minutes, as Tartu reduced the double-digit deficit to just one point in a matter of two minutes. With 26 second remaining, the Estonians were down by two points and had the ball in their hands. A difficult shot tied the game up with just a couple seconds remaining, but Jermaine Love did it again – a buzzer-beater won them the game, 88-86.
The visiting side had scoring coming from all over the roster, as five platers reached double digits in scoring, while Toni Prostran was not quite there. He was very visible on the court, nevertheless. Prostran swished and dished for 8 points and 15 assists, providing his team plenty of easy looks.
As far as scoring goes, Karolis Petrukonis was the top player for Nevezis in this department, dropping 17 points, as Paulius Petrilevicius chipped in 16. Vaidotas Volkus added 15 to the tally, while Ivan Smiljanic ended up with 14. Jermaine Love didn’t miss a single shot and including the game-winner, had 13 points.
On the other side, Tanel Sokk was the top scorer with 19 points to his name. Mandell Thomas came off the bench to score 17, while Dominykas Milka and Janari Joesaar ended the game with 15 and 13 points, respectively.
Seeing how this game unfolded, we should be looking at a very exciting second leg of this series in Kedainiai next week.
Tartu Head Coach Gert Kullamäe: "I am really not happy with our defense today; offensively, there's not much to complain about. Some of our opponents really got through us today and we need to solve that issue before Tuesday for sure. To let the opponents score 88 on our home court - that's not like us."
Nevežis Head Coach Paulius Juodis: "We came in knowing this was going to be a very tough game. Tartu's leading in the Estonian championships at the moment, they're a talented team, and I knew they would put up a big fight. We were ready. The 2 points we won by don't mean much in the play-offs - the next game in Lithuania is bound to be just like this one. Can't be too confident."