The Greens found a way to pull out a gritty 75-65 victory in Rishon to knot the series at 2-2 – forcing a decisive fifth game back at RK Arena on Wednesday after being down 0-2. The Haifa defense was relentless, holding Rishon to 17% (2-of-17) from downtown. Three players carried Haifa to victory as Will Graves dropped 18 points and 6 rebounds. Gregory Vargas matched Graves with 18 points, adding 8 assists and 6 rebounds. Chanan Colman was outstanding – drilling one clutch 3-pointer after the next for 17 points on 5-of-7 from downtown, 6 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists. The Greens controlled the boards all night, outrebounding Rishon 44-34.
Darryl Monroe’s 21 points and 5 boards paced Rishon. The only other player for Rishon to score in double figures was Shawn Dawson who notched 10 points and snared 6 rebounds.
“When you deal with what you have to do, and not with what will happen, the pressure is less in some way,” coach Rami Hadar said. “We focused more at halftime and we wanted to be more accurate. At the end of the day, we are a team that must execute well. When we shoot well from three, it helps a lot and in the last two games we are scoring our normal averages.”
“It was our most important game that’s for sure,” Colman said. “We didn’t really feel the pressure. Rami did a good job taking it off of our shoulders. I think that the big change from the first two games was that we felt less pressure. I am excited about game 5 in-front of our home fans.”
Rishon’s Chris Wright started the game with two flashy dunks to take a 4-0 lead. Colman answered with a 3-pointer and Blayzer scored a bucket to claim a 5-4 lead. Graves nailed a jumper and later in the frame threw down an emphatic dunk to make it 11-7. Lyons nailed a 3-pointer from the corner to tighten the score at 11-10 in favor of Haifa at the close of the quarter.
Buckner started the second quarter with a putback dunk to put Haifa up 13-10. Monroe reclaimed the lead for Rishon with five straight points, but Rougeau tied it at 15 after draining a jumper. Rishon managed to take a five point lead twice which was answered by three 3-pointers by Colman to bring Haifa within one point at 30-29 to Rishon. However, the home team finished the second half by scoring the last four points, 34-29, on a Wright layup and a difficult bucket by Palmer, splitting the Haifa defense. Haifa was troubled by 9 turnovers in the first half which allowed Rishon to capitalize with 10 points off turnovers. The Greens didn’t get to the line once in the first half.
In the third quarter, Graves immediately got to the line – the first time Haifa drew a shooting foul- making one of two from the charity stripe. Vargas buried a 3-pointer as Haifa ensued on an 12-0 run to take a 41-34 advantage. Rishon climbed back to within three points at 45-42 after a Dawson bucket and Hanochi fast break layup. DiBartolomeo answered with a drive to the bucket, and Graves posted up his defender for a bucket, and DiBartolomeo followed up a with a 3-pointer to put Haifa up as Haifa widened the gap to 52-43. Rishon’s Dawson and Ben Chiimol got to the line to make it 52-46 in favor of Haifa.
Hickerson started the fourth with a post up move and Vargas netted a jumper to give Haifa a double-digit advantage at the 7:47 mark of the fourth quarter. Rishon whittled the Haifa lead down to 56-53 after Monroe took over scoring 5 points to cap a 7-0 run. Colman knocked down a clutch 3-pointer with 4:56 left in regulation, but Monroe and Dawson wouldn’t give up as they cut it 59-57. Rougeau hit a dagger three-pointer which took the air out of Rishon, and Vargas added the fuel to the fire by scoring four straight points to put Haifa up 66-57. The Haifa defense forced a key turnover as the Greens were able to subdue Rishon for a 75-65 victory to force a decisive fifth game back in Haifa.