In a rematch of last year's grand final the Southland Sharks have defeated the Wellington Saints 95-87 in overtime.
The Sharks were again led by their big three of Jordair Jett, Nick Kay and Alex Pledger who accounted for 74 points. The Saints had no answer for Jett who had 33 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and four steals in a performance likely to give him back to back player of the week wins. Kay had 23 and Pledger shot 14-16 for 18 points to go along with 18 rebounds.
It is the third straight win the Sharks have had over the Saints, and showed a lot of grit tonight after they trailed by 13 in the early stages of the opening period and as many as nine in the fourth. Wellington's zone defense slowed the Sharks offense down in the first half, but Jett hit three threes' in the early stages of the third to give Sharks momentum.
Wellington looked like they might run away with the win after a Torrey Craig tip with 6:42 left in the fourth, put the Saints up 66-57. Sharks would increase their defensive intensity causing Wellington to make mistakes down the stretch. Behind Jett and Kay the home side made a 17-8 run to push the game into the extra period. Wellington had a chance to win the game with 20 seconds remaining, but in an ugly possession they turned the ball over with still time left. Everard Bartlett was unable to get his three-point attempt in time.
It was all Southland in the fourth quarter as they shot 6/8 from the field and 9/12 free throws to win overtime 21-13. The win put the Sharks to 3-2, also moving ahead of the Saints into the top four.
Southland will be pleased with their defensive effort on last year's MVP, Torrey Craig, who shot 9-25 for his 22 points. Former Shark, Shea Ili had 17, but also shot poorly, making only 4/15 FG. Leon Henry (19 points and 10 rebounds), and Jameel Watkins (16 points and 15 rebounds) added double-doubles for the Saints who drop to 2-2.
It was the perfect start for the Sharks who will now travel to the North Shore to play the James Blond Supercity Rangers on Saturday, and then the Indigo Hawks on Sunday. Wellington will try to avoid a three game losing streak when they play the Canterbury Rams in Christchurch tomorrow.