Hapoel Jerusalem 298.88.
(photo credit: Blake-Ezra Cole)
Hapoel Jerusalem recovered from a poor start to trounce Bnei Hasharon 95-81 in a delayed game in BSL Matchday 30 on Monday night at Malha.
The game wasn't as close as the score would indicate, as the visitors got off to a strong start but floundered when star center Ousmane Cisse injured his back six minutes into the game.
Hapoel led by 30 early in the second half before resting its top players down the stretch.
Erez Marckovitch came off the bench to score 20 and grab six rebounds both team highs. Roger Mason Jr. added 16, Tamar Slay 10 and Meir Tapiro finished with nine points and eight assists.
Bnei Hasharon's Ugonna Onyekwe led all scorers with 23 and Guy Pnini had 20.
With the victory, secondplace Jerusalem won its fifth straight and improved to 21-6, while Bnei Hasharon fell to 12-15.
Cisse led the visitors to a blistering start, as they outhustled and played better basketball than Hapoel to take an early 18-4 lead. But a minute later, with Bnei Hasharon ahead 13, Cisse got hurt and the game was forever changed.
The center from Mali went up to challenge an Marckovitch effort and landed awkwardly. After several minutes lying face-down on the floor, Cisse limped off the court and didn't return.
Without its man the middle, Bnei Hasharon seemed impotent and Jerusalem ran away with the game. The hosts scored nine unanswered points to end the period and started the second quarter with another 15 to take a 31-20 lead.
An Onyekwe fast-break layup four-and-a-half minutes into the period ended a nine-minute scoreless stretch, but would have little impact on the rest of the game. Jerusalem continued to plug away, slowly but surely building a lead that reached 57-30 by halftime.
The second half was no more than extended garbage time, with both coaches giving most of the minutes to their reserves.
Bnei Hasharon point guard Terrence Rencher, for the second game in the row picked up three early fouls and then a technical, did not dress for the second half.
Coach Ya'acov Geno said afterwards: "He did what he did on his own accord. When asked if there will be repercussions, he said "their is a management board and they will decide."
However Renched presented the situation in a much different light. "I did what they told me to do," he said afterwards.
Regarding Cisse, the coach said that he was hurt before the game and unable to play after the blow he suffered in the first period.
In Monday's other game, Maccabi Tel Aiv coasted by Elitzur Ashkelon 74-61.