Saints march on with dominant home win.
The Wellington Saints were tested in their third game, eventually prevailing 105 - 73 over the Southland Sharks. Starting the same five from the dominant win over the Canterbury Rams, the Saints brought a settled lineup into their second home game at the TSB Bank arena.
Starting slowly, the home team was down seven points early before Taane Samuel canned a three-pointer. Turnovers were an early problem as they went to an early Zico Coronel timeout down 9 - 3. Though their offense was struggling early, their threes started dropping, with the consistent Kenneth Tuffin looking strong.
Defensive energy in the second quarter helped them get back into the game as the Sharks spread their scoring around. After the Saints run to start the second, both teams traded buckets till the Saints gained a one-point lead
It was super-sub and Saints legend Troy Mclean who broke the game right open with a three-pointer as he and big man Tohi Smith-Milner got going. The Sharks shot well in the first half too, veteran Alonzo Burton nailing some nice-looking jumpers.
The Saints offense still wasn't flowing but they held their lead with some sharp outside shooting and strong defense.
46 - 39 to Saints at Half-time
The Sharks started the second half strongly but forward Samuel was cooking inside and out. A massive Kerwin Roach dunk from a big Romaro Gill screen had the crowd on its feet as the Saints went up by eight halfway through the third, but the Saints superior ball movement was getting good looks as they applied pressure to the Sharks cracking defense.
The Sharks stayed in touch in the third with consistent scoring across the board though. Samuel was the hot hand again, as he crossed 20 points in the third. A late Sharks three trimmed the Saints lead to nine with one quarter to go.
In the fourth, MVP candidate Dion Prewster got going, working nicely in the pick and roll as the Saints got out to a 15-point lead. The Saints defense continued to ramp up in the fourth, while their three-point shots were dropping at an eye-popping 53 percent in the game. They pulled away for a big win, and Coronel was able to empty the bench.
Final score 105 - 73
Taane Samuel had his best performance of the season with an impressive 26 points, including 5 threes securing the MVP spot for the night.
Dion Prewster was quieter than in weeks one and two, but still had an uber-efficient 8 of 12 for 22 points. He also added 7 rebounds and 6 assists.
Kerwin Roach Jr had 16 points and 6 assists and was perfect from two-point range on 4 attempts.
Taane Samuel (Saints-10)
Dion Prewster (Saints-8)
Tohi Smith-Milner (Saints-3)
Dom Kelman-Poto (Sharks-3)
Kerwin Roach (Saints-3)
Courtney Belger (Sharks-2)
Alonzo Burton (Sharks-1)