Ramla's Defense Too Much in Game 3
Lior Klinger ,04/26/2012
After game 1, Adan Inbar said he hoped Ramla would be the one to score one more basket. Tonight in game 3 in Ashdod he got his wish, though in this series it makes more sense to ask for one more stop. In another defensive battle Ramla was better through out, led by 10 with 3 minutes to play only to watch Ashdod cut it to 1 but the champs held on, 60 – 58.

Ashdod 58 – Ramla 60
It's official, this series is not for the faint of heart. Though the first half looked more like handball than basketball the game was tight and nerve wrecking. Ramla was close to finishing the 3rd with a 5-point lead but a flagrant foul plus technical foul cost them the lead and the score was tied at 42 going into the 4th. Tanisha Wright in an amazing night helped the visitors take a 59-49 lead with 3 minutes to go but Ashley Sheilds & Ashdod weren’t about to give up.

Shields scored 10 points in the 4th and could have tied the score after she stole the ball and was fouled hard on the break. There was a similar situation with an unsportsmanlike foul in game 1 as well and some people are saying the refs have been on Ashdod's side but just like Adan Inbar doesn't see the point in addressing this since it's part of the game, neither do we. Shields made only one free throw to cut it to 58-59, and Ashdod had to inbound with 7 seconds left. Kolodny got the ball to Pierson inside but she threw it to Young for a backcourt violation. Wright was sent to the line with 4 seconds left, made one and missed the 2nd on purpose, Pierson's desperation shot was off. Ramla's up 2-1, champagne will be on stand by this Monday night.

"In the last 3 minutes we didn't play smart and that's really not like us, Ashdod deserves credit for coming back but we'll fix what we need to fix", said Adan Inbar at the end. Much of the credit for Ramla's lead goes to Wright who was simply unstoppable, but Ashdod switched to a box and 1 on her in the final 4 minutes and she didn't get the ball after scoring 18 points in the 2nd half. "It's natural that when you play long sets the ball will get to Tanisha, and we regret that it left her hands in the final minutes and didn't return", he continued. "In the last 7 seconds we played good defense, we're a great defensive team, we've been holding the opponent to the score we wanted for 4 games now (between 58 and 60 for the 4th straight game). We knew they would go to Plenette so we put Le'Coe on her and called automatic switching, which is what we did all game. It was hard to decide whether to miss the 2nd free throw or not, but we took our chances on their crazy shot", he concluded.

"We didn't keep our composure in the final 3 minutes", said Tanisha Wright. "Le'Coe and Alana did a great job denying the ball on defense in the final 7 seconds, hat's off to them. Defense is the name of the game, whoever gets the most stops will get the win and we got a critical one at the end. Ashdod's playing great defense too, we're not getting much more than 60 points either, that's why defense is the key. We stole a game on the road which is all we wanted to do, now we go home to rest and hopefully come focused for game 4", said Wright.

"We can't seem to get 3 foreigners on point in the same game and it's not enough, what can you do", said the disappointed Edni Dagan at the end. "Unfortunately Tamera went MIA in this series and I don't credit Ramla's defense for that, with all due respect. It's a mental issue she's struggling with and can't seem to pull herself out of it. In the last 3 minutes we had energy, we ran, Ashley woke up but each time one player wakes up another goes to sleep and we can't afford that", he continued. "We let our most experienced players inbound and receive the ball in the final 7 seconds, it should have gone to Plenette and she should have gone to the basket. Why she chose to pass the ball we don't know, she doesn't have an answer either".

If we thought both teams will start to learn how to handle each other's defense as the series continues, the opposite seems to happen. Ashdod hit just 26% from 2pt range in the 1st half led by Pierson and Young's combined 4 for 17 performance but miraculously Ashdod led 26-24 at the half since Ramla, who shot well when they actually got a shot off and was leading on the boards too, turned the ball over 13 times in the first 20 minutes.

Ashdod got its biggest lead of the game, 8, early in the 3rd quarter before Tanisha Wright took over and informed us all that this is her world, we just live in it. The game was tied at 42 going into the 4th. Ramla had only 6 turnovers in the 2nd half and seemed on the right track with a 10 point lead and 3 minutes to go, following a small heart attack they really could breathe easy.

For Maccabi Ashdod:
Ashley Shields 16 pts, 4 stls
Plenette Pierson 15 pts, 7 rebs, 7 ast
Brittany Denson 9 pts, 7 rebs
Tamera Young 9 pts
Naomi Kolodny 7 pts
Merav Dori 2 pts

For Elizur Ramla:
Tanisha Wright 24 pts, 7 rebs, 6 ast, 8 tos
Le'Coe Willingham 11 pts, 7 rebs
Amber Harris 10 pts
Alana Beard 7 pts
Michal Epstein 4 pts
Katia Levitsky 2 pts
Laine Selwyn 2 pts, 7 stls, 4 ast

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