Maccabi Haifa sharp-shooter Dagan Yavzuri.
(photo credit: ERAN LUF)
A balanced display by Maccabi Haifa saw it register its third victory in the past four BSL games on Monday night, snapping Ironi Ness Ziona’s three-game winning streak with an 87-77 triumph at Romema Arena.
Haifa won just four of its first 12 games of the season and was in danger of getting caught up in the battle against relegation.
However, since cutting Americans Demontez Stitt and Jeff Allen following their arrest for being in possession of marijuana at the start of December, Haifa has won six of eight games over all competitions, improving to 7-9 in the BSL on Monday.
Haifa brought in Moran Roth and Will Graves to replace the two foreigners it released, and while the former managed to play just seven minutes before suffering an injury, Graves has been nothing short of superb.
The American forward finished with 18 points and five rebounds on Monday, taking his averages to 16.3 points and 5.0 boards over four games.
After a tight first quarter, Haifa pulled ahead in the second period, taking a double-digit gap (44-33) into the break after Ike Ofoegbu’s basket.
An 11-0 run to end the third frame opened a 20-point margin (68-48) from which Ness Ziona was never going to come back. Rene Rougeau led Haifa with 19 points, five rebounds and five assists, with Dagan Yavzuri adding 15 points and 10 assists and Ofoegbu scoring 15 points.
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Craig Smith had 19 points for Ness Ziona, which fell to 10-6.
The new-look Bnei Herzliya (6-10) continued its revival with an 81-71 win over Ironi Nahariya (5-11).
Herzliya had lost four straight games before signing Julian Wright and Deron Washington, and the former led his team with 27 points and seven rebounds on Monday while the latter added 12 points.
Herzliya got off to a fast start, but it was Nahariya which took a two-point edge (57-55) into the final 10 minutes. However, a 15-1 surge put the hosts in control (72-64), effectively clinching their second win in a row.
John Williamson netted 19 points for Nahariya (5-11).
Maccabi Ashdod coach Lior Lubin is in jeopardy of losing his job after his team dropped another tight game on Monday, losing 77-74 to Hapoel Eilat.
Rock-bottom Ashdod fell to 3-13 following its fourth consecutive loss after Eilat (7-9) held its nerve the better of the two teams.
Kevin Palmer led Eilat with 18 points, while James Nunnally finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds for Ashdod.
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