The Hawks have tipped off their National Basketball League on a promising note against the Wellington Saints in Napier despite going down 89-74 in front of a near-capacity home crowd.
The Indigo-sponsored side are trailing 21-16 in the first quarter but the Bay franchise team, with Kirstin Daly-Taylor at the helm in her first season of a five-year one, showed tenacious defence to keep the favourites at bay for most of the first spell.
The Bay, with co-captains of Aidan Daly and US import Chris Porter, led for most of the quarter but a couple of three points in the dying seconds saw them take the lead.
However, the hosts need to improve ten-fold in the shooting department to keep pace with the visitors boasting the likes of New Zealand Breakers forward Charles Jackson.
The Pettigrew-Green Arena in Taradale is humming to a 95 per cent capacity crowd as the franchise made it a gold-coin entry to lure more Hawks faithful to their home games.
However, the visitors returned with a vengeance in second quarter, taking that spell 29-21 to go into the locker rooms with coach Kevin Braswell 50-37 ahead.
Saints import Torrey Craig is the top points scorer, also helping bully the Hawks on the board with Leon Henry, Jackson and Benny Anthony jnr.
The Hawks are still desperately seeking love from the rim with Porter and Daly leading the way with five and four points, respectively.
The home side are only shooting at 33 per cent in the paint compared with the Saints' 73 per cent.
The absence of any Hawks on the glass statistics must have Daly-Taylor threading her worry beads.
The Hawks have only led for 4.36 minutes of the game so far.
The third quarter was about the Hawks playing catch-up basketball as they fell foul of the shot clock and coughed up unforced errors and valuable possession which only compounded their inability to pick two points close up.
A three-pointer from Daly put some respectability into the 69-54 score but, essentially, the hosts lost yet another quarter, 19-17, albeit a much closer one.
Jackson copped an elbow from Darryl Jones midway through the quarter, spending the rest of the time letting Saints physiotherapist Gavin Cross put buitterfly stitches on the cut.
Jones has come to party with three rebounds, two defensively, and two points but an air pass saw the coach bench him.
The encouraging this for the Hawks is the boost to 50 per cent on points from the bench to the saints' slide to 38.
The homeboys are also contributing better from the bench, 16 to the visitors' 11.
For the Saints, Dion Prewster, Henry and Shea Ili also contributed with timely baskets for the collective.
The final fling for the Hawks was always about staying in the game as the favourites ground their way to an 89-74 (20-20) victory to show why they were grand finalists last season.
Torrey finished with double-double of a game-high 26 points and 13 rebounds with Ili adding 19 and Jackson 14 despite not playing the last spell.
Ili had five assists while Henry chimed in with seven rebounds.
For the Hawks, Porter led the points on 21 with Matt Te Huna adding 13 and Alonzo Burton 10.
Porter also had six rebounds with Burton but the Hawks looked anaemic in the assists department with only Daly and Burton collecting three each.
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