Hapoel Galil Elyon-Golan handily defeated a sluggish Ironi Nahariya 78-59 Sunday night and advanced to the State Cup quarterfinals.
Galil overcame a three-point disadvantage from the first leg, which it lost at home.
Both clubs had been in a slump recently, but Galil-Golan had its most impressive outing in several weeks.
Nigerian center Uche Nsonwu led the Galil-Golan attack with 16 points and 8 rebounds, including four offensive boards that resulted in baskets.
Lior Elyahu added 15 points and playmaker Jason Straight, Nsonwu's college teammate at the University of Wyoming, orchestrated the attack with six assists.
"I feel like we are finally coming together," Uche said after the contest. "I've been here now a month and we are all more familiar with each other."
"We won the game on defense," he added, referring to 24 Nahariya turnovers.
Galil-Golan dominated the first period with superior backcourt quickness and offensive rebounding. The visitors grabbed an early 14-4 advantage, including five points on two put-back baskets by Nsonwu. Eliyahu and Straight added three pointers to add to the lead, and Galil-Golan was up 24-12 at the end of the first quarter.
Nahariya edged closer during the final two minutes of a sloppy second period. Five points by Barak Peleg and a free throw by Otis Hill cut Galil-Golan's lead to 34-27 at halftime. A combination of turnovers and cold shooting limited the two teams to a combined 25 points in the quarter.
While Galil-Golan began the third quarter playing much sharper, the hosts struggled.
At the end of the third, Galil-Golan had built up a 14-point lead (54-40), and sealed its place in the next State Cup round with a 19-6 run in the first five minutes of the final quarter.
Also Sunday, it was: Maccabi Petah Tikva 98, Hapoel Givatayim 89 (Maccabi Petah Tikva advances on aggregate); Maccabi Tel Aviv 109, Afula/Gilboa 81 (Maccabi Tel Aviv advances on aggregate); Bnei Hasharon 94, Hapoel Lev Hasharon 64 (Bnei Hasharon advances on aggregate); Maccabi Rishon 76, Ramat Hasharon 68 (Maccabi Rishon advances on aggregate); and Ironi Ramat Gan 86, Hapoel Holon 84 (Ironi Ramat Gan advances on aggregate).
Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts Elitzur Ashkelon Monday night to wrap up the State Cup round of 16.
Hapoel Jerusalem eases past Givat Shmuel
On Saturday, Hapoel Jerusalem advanced to the quarterfinals after an 85-77 victory over Givat Shmuel at Or Yehuda.
Jerusalem had a 29-point advantage from the first leg in Malcha and at no point was in any danger of not making it to the next round.
All four of Hapoel's American imports scored in double figures: center Mario Austin had 17 points, Roger Mason 16, Tamar Slay 14 and Horace Jenkins had 12 points and nine rebounds.
"It was important for us to win because it improves our confidence level. We have an important [ULEB Cup] game on Tuesday so it was vital to win," said Mason after the game.
Allon Sinai contributed to this report.
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