FINAL: Herzliya 79, Maccabi 75

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Maccabi blows 20 point advantage after fourth quarter collapse

Box Score

Sitting pretty with an 18-point lead at halftime, Maccabi Hunter Haifa were poised to escape Herzliya with a much-needed victory, which would have lifted the team out of last place.  Instead, the Greens collapsed in the fourth quarter as Herzliya used a 13-0 run to even the score, and eventually handed Maccabi a gut-wrenching 79-75 defeat on the road.  The Greens dropped to 6-14 on the season and remain in last place in the standings.

Through three quarters, the Greens were rolling on all cylinders.   The backcourt duo of Trevor Gaskins and Angel Rodriguez were giving Herzliya all they could handle.  Gaskins, who finished the night with a team-high 19 points in 37 minutes, knocked down a three-ball to put Haifa up 64-45 at the 2:25 mark of the third period.  And Rodriguez, who recorded 13 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and five turnovers on the evening, was one of the main reasons Haifa had built such a sizable lead — nursing a 68-55 advantage at the end of the third frame.

Eight seconds into the fourth quarter, Rodriguez committed his fourth foul and was sent to the bench.  The Greens’ offensive crumbled once Rodriguez left the court.  Maccabi was held scoreless for the first five and a half minutes of the final period during Herzliya’s run. Brandon Triche knocked down two triples to knot the game at 68-68.  Even when Herzliya’s Shawn Dawson fouled out of the game, the Greens couldn’t take advantage of his absence.

Zach Graham broke up the Haifa scoring drought to reclaim a 70-68 lead, but it was short-lived as Jeff Adrien tied the game and added a huge block which led to a fastbreak to put the home team up, 72-70. Oz Blayzer reclaimed a one point edge for Haifa after burying a critical 3-pointer.  But Adrian continued to do damage inside as he put Herzliya up 76-74 after two baskets in the paint.  Rodriguez, and Herzliya’s Green and Adrian each scored one of two from the line as Herzliya maintained an 78-75 edge going into the final minute.

Gaskins turned the ball over, Triche missed a three and Blayzer had a chance to tie the game with a three-pointer, but couldn’t hit from the corner as Adrien corralled the rebound.  The forward scored one of two from the line to put Herzliya up 79-75 with 9 seconds left in regulation.  Yivzori missed a 3-point attempt which sealed Haifa’s fate.

Herzliya’s Brandon Triche scored a game-high 29 points on 6-of-8 shooting from downtown, and was the catalyst for their furious rally to overcome the Greens.

“We made very critical mistakes on defense,” said a disappointed coach Offer Rahimi after the game.  “We gave them open shots from three, and on the other side of the court, we made bad decisions.  We have a mental problem and my responsibility as coach is to fix it.”

Despite handily winning the rebound advantage 48-32, the Greens hurt themselves with 15 turnovers, and were unable to distribute the ball with only 9 assists.  Haifa reverted back to their dreadful three-point shooting, connecting on only 4-of-21 attempts (19 percent).

Maccabi will return home face Gilboa Galil next Monday, March 26.