Alex Tyus (left) and Ike Ofoegbu.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
A lethargic Maccabi Tel Aviv came back from 21 points down to record its 13th consecutive BSL win on Monday night, beating Maccabi Haifa 74-70 at Yad Eliyahu Arena.
Maccabi was completely lost for much of the opening half, hitting just one of its first 17 field-goal attempts and allowing Haifa to race into a considerable cushion.
However, the yellow-and-blue closed to within five points (41- 36) at the break and outlasted the greens in the second half to improve to 17-2 in the BSL, four games clear of second place Hapoel Jerusalem.
Devin Smith led Tel Aviv with 21 points, with Alex Tyus finishing with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Ike Ofoegbu had 20 points and 12 boards for Haifa (8-11), which faces Maccabi once more next week in the State Cup semifinals in Jerusalem.
Maccabi couldn’t buy a basket for much of the first half, playing recklessly and allowing Haifa to open a 21-point gap.
Tel Aviv didn’t score its first two-point basket of the night until there were less than four minutes to play in the first half and Smith’s basket only cut the deficit to 18 points (37-19).
However, the yellow-and-blue dominated the closing minutes of the second period, moving to within five points (41-36).
Haifa managed to reestablish a nine-point margin (54-45), but Maccabi came right back and the game remained tight until the final seconds.
A Marques Haynes basket midway through the fourth period brought the hosts back on level terms and an exhausted Haifa couldn’t muster another run.
Elsewhere, Hapoel Holon continued its excellent form and climbed up to third place, beating Hapoel Eilat 89-86 on the road to improve to 12-7 with its sixth win from the past seven games.
Eilat (9-10) entered the game on the back of a three-game winning streak and two of the league’s in-form teams battled it out until the final buzzer.
Jordan Taylor scored the go-ahead basket with 15 seconds to play, hitting a three-pointer (88-86) from which Eilat couldn’t come back.
Taylor and Sean Evans led Holon with 17 points each, while Kevin Palmer had 22 points and nine boards for Eilat, which will now turn its attention to next week’s cup semifinal against Hapoel Jerusalem.
Bnei Herzliya (7-12), still without a head coach following the sacking of Muli Katzurin last week, trounced the sorry Hapoel Gilboa/Galil (5-14) 100-77 on Monday. Assistant coach Micky Gorka staked his claim to become Katzurin’s full-time replacement, with Herzliya outscoring Gilboa 24-9 in the first quarter and never looking back.
Josh Selby led six Herzliya players in double figures with 23 points, while Oded Brandwein had 19 points for Gilboa.
“We can’t continue like this,” said Gilboa owner Haim Ohayon before ruling out the sacking of coach Barak Peleg. “Replacing the coach is not our first option at Gilboa. We will try everything else before we do that.”
Also Monday, Ironi Nahariya (7-12) beat Ironi Ness Ziona (10- 9) 91-86.
Mark Lyons had 23 points and nine assists for Nahariya, with Craig Smith finishing with 27 points and seven rebounds for Ness Ziona, which has lost four consecutive games.