Still Perfect in Ashdod
Orli Klinger ,11/03/2008
After a close first half, Ashdod played a great 3rd quarter and opened a 20 point gap with beautiful team play. Natanya tried to get back in the game in the 4th but weren't able to get it under 13 as Ashdod always found a hot hand to cool off the visitors en route to a 78 – 65 win.

Maccabi Ashdod 78 – Elizur Maccabi Natanya 65
Even though it was just a 13 point final margin, Ashdod dominated the 2nd half through out and built a 20 point lead. Bat El Lazmi made a nice three to make it 76 – 57 with three minutes to play, and the visitors were able to do a little damage control till the buzzer while the local fans stood up and cheered. Ashdod remained perfect thanks to their fun to watch team play with four players in double figures.

"We had fun, that's the most important thing. We really played as a team", Karin Agasi summed up at the end. She came off the bench for 11 points, a part of big contribution by the Israelis and the bench tonight. "Everyone who came in made a change, Yael [Aharonov] brought in energy and Nofar [Shalom] was fearless. Daliah [Bushinski] prepared us well like always, and it finally looked like we're flowing", she said. "We had good minutes but we still don’t look like I want us to, but I feel the improvement process and I'm happy for that. We couldn't put the game away and I have an explanation which I won't talk about", said Bushinski at the end. "Nofar and Karin deserve credit, Nofar did a lot of little things. They work hard in practice and they deserve it, really".

Natanya was better early on with points from all three foreigners, 8 – 2 after Navonda Moore hit a three. Ashdod wasn’t able to run and looked a little lost when some good looks didn’t fall, while on the other end Natasha Brackett who played point was getting a lot of points inside, 12 – 6. Ashdod got going after Brashida Elohim hit a long jumper in the set game which sparked a 14 – 2 run. Bushinski put Agasi in for Humphrey, and she immediately got a steal and raced for the layup. Ashdod's small lineup kept running as Tamara Moore made a three point play and they pushed the lead to 20 – 14 after one.

Brackett did whatever she felt like and scored five to help Natanya cut the lead. Agasi came back and glued herself to Brackett, and Ashdod was able to hold Natanya scoreless for two and a half minutes. Aharonov came off the bench well and had a basket and assist to make it 28 – 20. With Humphrey out with two fouls, Natanya remembered to go inside to Ransburg a little and she helped cut it to 30 – 34, but Moore answered right back with a three point play. Bushinski was quick to put Humphrey back and switch to a zone, which stopped Natanya from going inside, and Ashdod made it 39 – 32 at the half.

Ashdod broke the game open in the 3rd. Natanya came out in a soft zone and Ashdod went to Humphrey every time down. She drew fouls, made free throws and finished off nice assists to make it 49 – 33. Natanya chose to play with Taly Noy which kind of took Brackett out of the offense cause she didn’t handle the ball, and Ransburg's 3rd foul wasn't good news for the visitors either with seven minutes to go in the quarter. Moore with a great ally hoop pass to Humphrey made it 60 – 40 with three to play in the 3rd. With Tamara Moore and Baker out the local offense hit a rough spot, Brackett & Moore made a quick 6 – 0 run to cut it to 14, but Agasi sealed the quarter with a big three, 63 – 45.

Ashdod was in control in the 4th as well and kept Natanya at arm's length with nice baskets by Bat El Lazmi and a lot of sharing on offense. It was 78 – 65 at the end, a little deceiving, but all Ashdod should care about is the 3 – 0 in the standings.

"We have to improve our defense and we're working on that all the time. Some players don’t have a fighter's style on defense, they think things will happen on their own, but we're working on that", Simha Lev Tzor said after the game. "Ashdod is better, no doubt, but we lost the game on the little things. Offensive rebounds they got on our zone, misses under the baskets, turnovers… but defense is our main problem".

For Ashdod:
Tamara Moore 19 pts, 4 ast
Sherill Baker 17 pts, 5 ast
Jennifer Humphry 16 pts, 12 rebs
Karin Agassi 11 pts
Bat El Lazmi 7 pts, 3 ast
Brasheeda Elohim 6 pts
Yael Aharonov 2 pts

For Natanya:
Natasha Brackett 19 pts
Navonda Moore 18 pts
Tamara Ransburg 17 pts, 10 rebs
Sarit Arbel 7 pts, 6 rebs
Ornit Shwartz & Tali Noy 2 pts each

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