Basketball: Wellington Saints slaughter Supercity Rangers, Nelson Giants stun Canterbury RamsSave
By Matt Twort
The Wellington Saints recorded their ninth consecutive National Basketball League victory, staying unbeaten after hammering the Supercity Rangers 103-67 at TSB Bank Arena.
Heading into the match there were concerns over the health of Saints star Corey Webster, but it was opposing guard Lindsay Tait who ended up sitting out the match as a precuation with a tight Achilles.
The absence of Tait's experience and playmaking ability was evident in the game's opening possession where the Rangers failed to get off a shot.
Those struggles continued throughout the game as the Saints kept the Rangers to just 67 points and, more impressively, just 27 per cent shooting.
The Saints, on the other had, found no difficulty in putting the ball in the hoop with a spread effort across the team - five players reached double-digits in the points category, headed by Shea Ili's 19.
Also hurting the Rangers was their ability to rebound - by the half the Saints had already amassed 27 rebounds to the Rangers' 16 and, with that, a 55-32 lead.
As Rangers coach Jeff Green's frustration grew, so did the Saints' lead. Despite no player reaching the 20 point mark at the the third quarter's end, the Saints had expanded their lead to 82-41.
This allowed the Saints' starters some deserved minutes on the bench as the fourth quarter become largely a battle of the Saints' bench and the Rangers' starters, though the result was never in doubt.
Mitchell McCarron's 25 points and nine rebounds was the Rangers' standout effort, though Green will have plenty of questions for the rest of his squad's efforts.
Still without a loss this season, the Saints move to 9-0 while the Rangers' third loss of the season sees them join the Sharks at 4-3 - good enough for second-equal.
At Cowles Stadium the Nelson Giants scored their second win of the season, upsetting the Canterbury Rams 92-82.
The Rams again struggled out of the gate, scoring just 17 first quarter points as the Giants finished the opening period with a five point lead.
Dion Prewster (30 points) ran riot in the opening half, scoring 19 points off 10 shots as he led the Giants to a 48-43 half-time advantage.
A quick five points to Finn Delany (16 points) helped the Giants make more breathing room, though a slight Rams run saw the margin become eight points going into the final quarter.
Marcel Jones, with 26 points and 15 rebounds, was the man keeping Canterbury in the game as the fourth quarter began, though Giants guard Kyle Adnam (22 points) also found his groove to keep the Rams at arm's length and ultimately earn the Giants the win.
With their second win of the season, the Giants move off the bottom of the table with a 2-6 record. The Rams remain in the top four at 4-5, though the loss has opened the door for the Taranaki Mountain Airs to move into a playoff spot.