Yellow-and-blue notches rare easy conquest

Ness Ziona joins Jerusalem atop BSL standings with tight triumph; Gilboa/Galil, Holon also win.

Maccabi Tel Aviv's Yogev Ohayon 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv's Yogev Ohayon 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv returned to winning ways in the BSL with a comfortable 79-58 victory over Maccabi Rishon Lezion on Monday night, while Ironi Ness Ziona continued its remarkable start to the season, claiming its third straight triumph to move into a tie with Hapoel Jerusalem for the best record in the league.
Maccabi dropped to a dismal 5-4 record by its standards following last week’s loss to Jerusalem at Malha Arena, but dominated Rishon on Monday.
Tel Aviv scored 20 of the final 26 points of the first half to open a 17-point gap (46-29) before cruising in the second half.
“We have won a league game easily and that hasn’t happened much this season,” said Maccabi coach David Blatt.
“The guys deserve credit for playing well today.”
Tyrese Rice had 12 points for Maccabi, with Ricky Hickman and David Blu scoring 11 points each. Tasmin Mitchell netted 15 points for Rishon (3-7).
For the seventh time in 10 contests this season, a Ness Ziona game was decided by five points or less on Monday, and once more it was the newlypromoted side that finished with the win.
Ness Ziona improved to 7-3 and tied Jerusalem for the BSL’s best record with a thrilling 102-98 overtime victory over Bnei Herzliya.
After a tight game, Ness Ziona seemed to be headed to a win in regulation following Herzliya guard Avi Ben-Shimol’s miss from beyond the arc (86-84).
Ness Ziona’s Tyler Honeycutt could have clinched the game from the line with 0.8 seconds to play, but he missed his first free throw when he hoped to make it and scored his second when he aimed to miss it so the visitors wouldn’t be able to attempt another shot.
Honeycutt’s basket gave Herzliya another chance and Dwayne Bryoles hit a three as time expired to force overtime.
However, the hosts would not be denied the victory, scoring the first five points of the extra period and never looking back.
Honeycutt finished with 25 points, eight rebounds and five assists, while Diamon Simpson had 20 points and 13 boards. Preston Knowles scored 17 points, with Tal Dan and Mitchell Watt netting 16 points each.
Aviram Zalikovic led Herzliya (4-6) with 20 points.
Hapoel Holon (5-4) surprisingly outplayed Hapoel Eilat (5- 5) on Monday night, winning 91-71. Holon opened a ninepoint advantage (25-16) by the end of the first quarter and was in complete control at the break after outscoring Eilat 31-12 in the second period.
Brian Asbury had 24 points and 14 rebounds for Holon, with Shlomi Harush contributing 15 points. Terrence Roderick scored 18 points for Eilat, which fell to its third straight loss.
Hapoel Gilboa/Galil (5-5) moved back to .500 on Monday, beating Maccabi Ashdod (2-8) 80-74. Ashdod, which squandered a 29-point lead against Ness Ziona last week, held an eight-point cushion (68-60) midway through the fourth frame.
However, it would capitulate once more, with Gilboa going on an 11-2 run (71-70) to take a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
Rick Jackson led Gilboa with 26 points and nine rebounds, while R.T. Guinn had 20 points for Ashdod, which seems to find new ways to lose every week.