Local Hoops: Maccabi Haifa claims first road win of the season

Local Hoops Maccabi Hai

Maccabi Haifa claimed its first road win of the season on Monday night, defeating Bnei Hasharon 77-67 in Herzliya to improve to 3-2 on the season. Haifa's defensive play was once more the key to its victory, with Avi Ashkenazi's team holding its last two opponents to an average 66 points after allowing 101 points at Hapoel Gilboa/Galil three weeks ago. "We looked better on defense and I'm very pleased with our performance," Ashkenazi said. "I expect us to continue and improve with time. We know what we have to work on." Jason Rich scored 25 points for Haifa, with Davon Jefferson adding 19 points and 10 rebounds. Dori Assaf had 19 points for Bnei Hasharon, which falls to 2-3 with the loss. Bnei Hasharon led by a slender margin throughout the first period, but Haifa scored the last eight points of the quarter and opened a 26-23 advantage after 10 minutes. The encounter remained tight at the start of the second period, but Maccabi pulled ahead in the final four minutes of the first half. Haifa held Bnei Hasharon to just four points and Ashkenazi's team had a 44-35 lead at the break. The hosts ate away at the gap as the third quarter progressed and Erez Katz's buzzer-beating three-pointer gave Bnei Hasharon a 58-56 lead entering the final 10 minutes. The score remained close in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter, but in the last six minutes of the game Bnei Hasharon scored just four points and Haifa clinched the win. The hosts could not cope with Maccabi's defense and the visitors claimed another hard-fought victory with a 14-2 run.