Julian Larsson nailed two three-pointers in the final 42 seconds as the Regensburg Baskets took a huge step towards fending off relegation with their fourth straight victory – a 97-88 home win over USV Jena in a battle of teams fighting against the drop.
Johannes Wießnet collected a team-high 23 points for Regensburg while Daniel Waldhauser had 18 points and Tobias Waldhauser hit for 14 points. Larsson scored 13 points and Malte Binting and Mike Urban both chipped in eight points for the winners.
“It feels great. This is how it should be,” said Regensburg coach Markus Höß after the victory on Sunday.
The win improves the Baskets’ record in the 2. Regionalliga SouthEast North Division to 7-12 and pushes them to seventh place in the 12-team league. Both TTL Bamberg and Nürnberger BC II are also 7-12 but Regensburg hold the tiebreaker advantage while USV Jena dropped to 10th with a 6-13 record.
“Well, we are definitely away from the bottom of the standings. That is the most important thing,” said Höß, whose team was dead-last four game days ago with a 3-12 record and mired in a nine-game losing streak.
But Regensburg’s work is not yet done. They still need one victory to secure for certain their self-proclaimed goal of collecting five wins in the last seven games of the season and avoiding the drop.
“I always said we need five victories. We now have four. So, we still need one,” reminded Höß the team’s supporters.
Regensburg hope to grab victory number five either on March 25 at last placed DJK Eggolsheim or at their final home game on March 31 against BBV Leipzig. The final contest of the season is April 21 at BBC Bayreuth II – currently in second place and fighting to earn promotion to the 1. Regionalliga.
“One victory in three games is absolutely a doable task. Then we are through,” said an optimistic Wießnet.
The Baskets captain played a big role in Regensburg’s strong start to the game against Jena. Wießnet scored 12 points in the first quarter as the Baskets opened a 28-15 lead after one period.
Regensburg struggled with turnovers in the second quarter and Jena got back into the game with some strong interior passing between Stephan Schmuck, who had 25 points for the game; and Marcus Lohse, who scored 18 points. The guests pulled to within 45-41 at the break.
Mike Urban started the third quarter with a triple for the hosts and Regensburg pushed the lead back to double digits at 52-41. Jena went to the free throw line a number of times in the period and pulled within 62-58. But the Baskets still led 71-62 after 30 minutes.
Regensburg’s lead was 82-70 with four minutes to play but USV did not give up and closed within 85-83 on a lay-up by Björn Blossey, who finished with 30 points.
After an air-ball three-pointer and turnover on the previous two possessions, Larsson drilled a crucial three-ball with 42 seconds left for an 88-83 lead. And then Larsson came up big again, draining another triple with 9.9 seconds for a 94-88 lead, icing the game.
“Wow,” said Höß about Larsson’s last of three triples. After shooting an airball, he was pretty cool about that last one. He remained ice cold and drained it, great.”
After some early shooting struggles, Larsson thought it was just not his day. “But the team told me to just keep shooting. And as a shooter you know that you should just keep shooting. And it worked,” said Larsson.
All told, Regensburg hit 10 three-pointers in the game as they shot went against the Jena zone defense – something Höß had been preaching all week in training.
“I told them it’s important that you take the open shots from outside and don’t hesitate. Then you won’t make them. A lot of guys did that well. Confidence if the most important thing when you play against a zone,” said Höß.
“Our confidence is growing with every victory,” added Larsson.
Four down – one to go.