The Hawke’s Bay Hawks protected home turf in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NBL) as they clamped down the mighty Wellington Saints, 88-82, at the Pettigrew Green Arena on Friday, June 18.
With the win, Hawke’s Bay legitimized its place in the standings with an 8-3 record, good for second. Meanwhile, the Saints fell to 8-2 for the season and are momentarily at third place due to the league’s points system.
Devondrick Walker led five Hawks in double-digit scoring with a game-high 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting and 4-of-7 from three while Hyrum Harris added 18 markers and a game-high 7 rebounds.
Off an unusual 67-74 deficit near the start of the fourth quarter, the Saints finally showed off their feared second half offensive spurts as they mounted a 15-5 run capped by a Taane Samuel triple with 2:24 left to go up four, 82-78.
But in response to Wellington’s offensive might, the Hawks ultimately sealed the deal with their defensive prowess, and forced three late Saints turnovers en route to a 10-0 swing for the 88-82 lead with four seconds left.
Only five Wellington players got on the scoreboard in this game, all in double figures.
Tohi Smith-Milner led the way in the tough loss with 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists while Leon Henry accounted for all the Saints’ bench points with 17 markers.
Former La Salle big man Samuel added 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting from downtown while Fil-Kiwi stalwart Ken Tuffin was held scoreless for the first time this season, albeit with 5 rebounds and a steal in 20 minutes as a starter.
The Saints can quickly bounce back despite the loss as they are set to face the cellar-dwelling Taranaki Mountainairs, Tuffin’s old team, in the second game of a back-to-back set on Saturday, June 19. – Rappler.com