Maccabi Ashdod’s Ivan Aska (L) and Hapoel Jerusalem’s Tony Gaffney.
(photo credit: LIRON MOLDOVAN/BSL)
Hapoel Jerusalem recorded two consecutive wins in the BSL for the first time since November on Sunday night, beating Maccabi Ashdod 78-68 on the road to remain in second place in the standings.
After losing five straight games following a 9-0 start to the season, Jerusalem seems to have finally steadied the ship with three wins from its past four games to improve to 12-6.
Ashdod took a one-point edge (41-40) into the break, but a 16-2 Jerusalem run in the third quarter opened a double- digit cushion (61-47) which the hosts never threatened to erase.
Joseph Jones led six Hapoel players in double figures with 16 points and nine rebounds.
James Nunnally had 19 points and eight boards for Ashdod, which dropped to 4-14 and remains in last place.
Hapoel Tel Aviv is still just one game behind Jerusalem after beating Bnei Herzliya 91-71 on Sunday.
A tight first quarter ended tied at 25-25, but a 10-2 Hapoel run to finish the first half would give the visitors a promising eight-point gap (46-38) at the break.
Tel Aviv all but secured the win by the midway point of the third period, with a Matan Naor basket opening a 20-point margin (65-45) from which Herzliya was never going to come back.
Yancy Gates led five Hapoel players in double figures with 18 points, with Raviv Limonad adding 17 points and eight assists and Jeronne Maymon finishing with 14 points and 13 rebounds.
“I enjoyed our play apart from in the first quarter,” said Hapoel coach Oded Katash. “As soon as our defense found its rhythm we pulled ahead.”
Josh Selby scored 18 points for Herzliya, which fell to 6-12 with its second straight loss.
“Hapoel deserves credit because they played very well, but it is unacceptable that we allowed them to take 21 offensive boards,” said Herzliya coach Muli Katzurin.
On Monday, Ironi Ness Ziona (10-7), Maccabi Rishon Lezion (10-7) and Hapoel Holon (10-7) will all aim to keep pace with Hapoel Tel Aviv.
Ness Ziona, which has lost two straight games, welcomes Ironi Nahariya (5-12), Rishon, which has dropped to three defeats over its past four contests, visits Maccabi Haifa (8-9), while Holon, a winner of four of its past five games, hosts Hapoel Eilat (8-9).