Local Hoops: Ashkelon cruises over Hapoel

Jerusalem looked lost on Monday and never found its footing against a desperate Ashkelon side.

Hapoel Jerusalem 248.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger [file])
Hapoel Jerusalem 248.88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger [file])
Chris Massie led Ironi Ashkelon to its second victory of the season over Hapoel Jerusalem on Monday night. The American big man scored 21 points and grabbed 14 rebounds helping Ashkelon to an 89-76 home victory. Hapoel, which lost 98-97 to Ashkelon at the Malha Arena in January, came into the game on a two game win streak, but looked lost on Monday and never found its footing against a desperate Ashkelon side. Steve Burtt scored 23 points in 25 minutes for the hosts before fouling out, with Guy Pnini scoring 16 points for Jerusalem despite receiving stitches to his left eye in the second quarter. Jerusalem opened an early six point margin after a Pnini three-pointer (16-10), but the hosts ate away at the deficit and trailed by a mere two points at the end of the first period (23-21). Burtt's three to start the second quarter gave Ashkelon a rare lead, but Hapoel still took a three point cushion into the break thanks to Sharon Sasson's basket (42-39). Ashkelon opened the second half with a 6-0 run to retake the lead (45-42) and never allowed Hapoel to find its rhythm in the third period. The lead exchanged hands numerous times in the quarter and a Jayson Wells free throw tied the score at 57-57 with 10 minutes to play. The hosts were sharper at the start of the final period and opened a slender lead. Massie's dunk from an offensive rebound gave Ashkelon a 71-64 advantage midway through the quarter, and Jerusalem began to panic. The visitors turned-over the ball time and again and a Cory Carr led fast break was finished off by Massie, opening a 11 point margin (78-67) with just under three minutes to play. Hapoel managed cut the gap to six points (80-74) after a Pnini triple with 1.20 minutes to play, but the hosts held on for the important win and boosted their survival hopes.