Ramat Hen came back from 15 down in the 2nd and 11 down in the 4th to force a close finish, but Ramla's in its first game with Snow in the lineup made plays when it counted and held on to an important win.
Elizur Ramla 71 – Maccabi Ramat Hen 67
Ramla led by just three with a minute to go, but Ramat Hen blew too many chances to get closer. Ramla survived thanks to Michelle Snow's double double of 17 & 12 and Jackie Johnson's 18 points. Ramat Hen suffred from a terrible shooting day going 2 for 20 from downton and 57.7% from the line, and never led in the 2nd half.
"I was afraid we'd lose today", Eli Rabi admitted at the end. "No plays or anything, and it's not easy. Only talent won it for us today, along with our fighting spirit. I'm glad they regrouped at the end because winning was the only thing that mattered. Later on when we click we'll be a good team". So maybe this is the final roster for Ramla? "You can't guarantee that in here".
On the other end Ramat Hen can be frustrated from the number of open threes they missed, like Lena Mustafina's 1 for 10, and mainly from their 11 missed free throws, most in the 4th quarter. "We're a much better team than we showed here today. Most of the threes we missed were good shots. You could only imagine what Taj McWilliams would've done if our outside shot had fallen tonight", said Adan Inbar at the end. "I'm pleased with Brown & Price's contribution on the defensive glass, and with our transition game and our defense. We didn't do the little things, and games are decided on those".
McWilliams-Franklin, who was the best player on the court tonight with 26 points on great shooting and 11 rebounds, couldn't care less about her stats after the game, and blamed the loss on the defensive end. "I don’t care how much I scored, we lost. We lost because we didn’t play good enough defense when it counted. We never shoot well from outside, that doesn't matter. As long as you play good defense, you can miss all the shots but one right?" she said. " We have to make sure everybody on the team knows that they can play any player, and stop them player from going to their best move. Offense? We're so quick, we're smart with the ball, it'll come. We just have to be smarter on defense and we have to box out. We gave them too many chances at the end with offensive rebounds. Jaclyn Johnson played great, she backed down the players when there was a mismatch, we have to learn to rotate and play better defense".
Both teams weren't too sharp in the set game early on, not surprisingly. Ramla went mostly inside but Snow wasn't focused at the start, while Ramat Hen forgot about their center. Ramla scored in transition and Edwina Brown's steals helped Ramat Hen score on the break. Armintie Price showed off her athletic ability with nice moves to give the visitors a 16 – 14 with three to play in the first. Following a time out Laine Selwyn led Ramla on a 9 – 0 run with an assist and two fast breaks, and Johnson with a three point play made it 26 – 18 after one.
Ramla's zone worked well and Ramat Hen settled for outside shots, and nothing was falling. On the other end Johnson began to heat up and along with a Selwyn three the lead grew to 40 – 25, four minutes to go in the half. Ramat Hen, unlike what they've done many times before, was able to get back in the game and closed the half with an 11 – 1 run. They slowly realized good things happen when the ball got in the paint. Price and Sharon scored on drives and McWilliams scored from the high and low post to make it just 36 – 41 at the half. Ramla stopped going inside even though there were plenty of small Ramat Hen guards caught defending posts, and looked confused. The one who's supposed to help them snap out of droughts like that – Sherill Baker – was getting full defensive attention from Price and never got her rhythm going.
Shay Doron came off a screen to make it 46 – 40 as Ramla kept leading. Ramat Hen stayed close with points by Price & Sharon in the paint, and Mustafina with Ramat Hen's first three made it just 47 – 49 with under six to go in the 3rd. It seemed like the momentum was about to switch sides as Brown hit Price for a layup with a behind the back bounce pass and McWilliams was blocking everything on the other end. But, Ramla kept their composure and made plays to regain control. They hit 6/6 from the line and Johnson nailed a three to make it 62 – 51 after three.
Ramat Hen tightened up their defense in the start of the 4th, and Ramla was moving the ball well but passing up shots. Snow scored four to make it 66 – 57 as Ramat Hen missed free throws in bunches. Price scored on a tip in and McWilliams nailed a big three to make it just 62 – 66 with under six to go, but Snow made sure they don't cut it to two as she blocked Brown on the break. Snow and Johnson increased the lead to 70 – 63 with about two minutes to play.
Price answered right back with a quick layup, and Shiri Sharon made her free throws to cut it to 67 – 70 with 76 seconds to go. On the other end Doron & Selwyn missed and Brown had a chance to get closer but she missed two free throws and a short jumper. Ramat Hen sent Snow to the line, she made one with 30 seconds left, and Ramat Hen couldn't score on the other end.
Jackie Johnson 18 pts
Michelle Snow 17 pts, 12 rebs
Shay Doron 14 pts
Laine Selwyn 8 pts
Sherill Baker 6 pts
Brashida Elohim 4 pts
Taly Noy & Katia Abramzon 2 pts each
For Ramat Hen:
Taj McWilliams-Franklin 26 pts, 11 rebs
Armintie Price 18 pts
Edwina Brown 12 pts
Shiri Sharon 8 pts
Lena Mustafina 3 pts
Nice debut for Snow
Photo: NY Times