Hapoel Jerusalem defeated Bakken Bears 89-80 in Basketball Champions League action to continue their fine form of late as they chalked up yet another win to finish off what was a very fruitful month of November. The victory for the Reds was their 7th in a row across all competitions and moves their continental record to 3-1 which guarantees Aleksandar Dzikic’s club at least an appearance in the Round of 16 Group Stages Play In Playoff with two tough road games remaining at 2-2 Darussafaka and group leaders Ludwigsburg who also sit at 3-1.
Jerusalem entered the game against the Danish squad coming on the heels of a tough win at Maccabi Tel Aviv earlier in the week as Speedy Smith picked up right where he left off as he dished the ball out at will to eager recipients in Zach Hankins, Mareks Majeris and Levi Randolph who all hit the mark to give the hosts a 48-41 lead at halftime.
However, just as the Reds looked to pull away in the third quarter, the Bears duo of Elijah Childs and Tony Carr pulled the visitors even 64-64 but Siim Sander Vene hit a 3-pointer at the end of the period to allow Jerusalem to retake the lead. Khadeen Carrington found points in the final frame while Randolph scored from the outside and Hankins on the inside to close out the 9-point victory.
Hankins led the way with 22 points and 9 rebounds, Carrington added 20 points, Randolph scored 17 points and Smith chipped in with 14 assists and 9 points in the win. Childs paced the visitors with 26 points and Carr scored 19 points in the defeat.
“It’s super important to understand that this team, Bakken Bears is good and have a lot of potential,” Dzikic began. “They came to the game with no pressure and on they were on the road, but at the end we won in a tough game. There are a lot of things that I’m not satisfied with, other than the win itself.”
Bears head coach Anders Sommer also reflected on the game, “This was a frustrating loss as we felt we were right there and we followed the game plan, but in crunch time we made some mistakes.”
“There are highs and lows and we have a lot of growth to do,” the game MVP Zach Hankins said. “Right now we are playing at a very high level, playing together and we played well in the last quarter.”
Bears veteran guard Skyler Bowlin looked at the game from his point of view, “We felt that we had the opportunity to take the lead but we couldn’t find those two extra buckets to put is over the edge.”
Zach Hankins for Hapoel Jerusalem and Ryan Evans for Bakken Bears traded baskets to get the game off to a quick start, Levi Randolph drilled home a corner 3-ball and Mareks Mejeris dunked to give the Reds a 10-4 lead midway through the first quarter. Tony Carr went from deep, Speedy Smith and Randolph scored deuces, Evans and Darko Jukic countered for the visitors, Khadeen Carrington went from downtown while Evans and Elijah Childs came right back with points but the hosts stayed in front 24-19 after ten minutes of play.
Childs opened the second quarter with a layup, Or Cornelius dialed up from long distance, Hankins put down another dunk, Noam Dovrat stole the ball and went in for an uncontested layup to keep Aleksandar Dzikic’s squad ahead 32-27 with 5:51 left in the first half. Carr came in for a layup, Siim Sander-Vene scored a pair from beyond the arc, Michel Diouf scored inside, Hankins put in a reverse dunk, Childs and Skyler Bowlin came right back with points but Randolph scored a layup to give Jerusalem a 48-41 advantage at halftime.
Mejeris dunked to get the third quarter off and running, Randolph hit a 3-pointer, Carrington picked off the ball and went in for an easy two, Carr and Evans came back with points, Diouf went from downtown to cut the lead to 55-51 midway through the period. Childs scored a pair of baskets, Smith went from deep, Hankins put down a big dunk, Deng Adel found his first points of the game, Bowlin dialled up long distance, Randolph responded and Vene scored a 3-pointer to keep Jerusalem in the lead 67-64 after thirty minutes of action.
Childs began the fourth quarter with points, Carrington answered, Randolph went from downtown as did Bowlin but the Reds kept clinging to the lead 75-71 with 5:30 remaining in regulation time. Carr scored a 3-point play, Hankins found points in the paint, Carrington scored an acrobatic layup, Carr dunked, Hankins scored inside and Smith drilled home a triple as Jerusalem took the win.