The Canterbury Rams have proved they are the team to beat, moving to the top with a 90-85 win over the Wellington Saints.
McKenzie Moore proved a strong case for MVP tonight, carrying the Rams in the fourth quarter with big three's ending the game with a game high 27 points, also adding six assists, five rebounds and three steals. Marcel Jones had 22 points and off the bench Marcus Alipate score 13 for the Rams who move to 12-5 for the season.
After trailing for the first three quarters and trailing by as many as 12 in the first half, Canterbury rallied to take a 68-67 lead thanks to a Jones three,The one minute into the fourth. From there on the home side would never lose they lead, pushing it upwards to eight. Wellington did close to within three, but in the end the Rams proved tougher down the stretch ending the Saints six game winning streak and also clinching the tiebreak advantage.
Tai Wesley scored a team high 25 (11-13 FG), Shea Ili had 21 points and Torrey Craig added 17 points and 13 rebounds for the Saints who drop to second place at 11-4. But despite the solid scoring effort both Craig and Ili combined for 12 turnovers, most of which came in the fourth quarter when the Rams upped the pressure.
Ram head coach Mark Dickel will be pleased with his sides second half performance, the Rams winning it 52-39. The Rams were also able to limit their turnovers at seven compared to the Saints 19.
Wellington will now travel to Invercargill to play the SIT Zerofees Sharks who have a chance to clinch a playoff spot tomorrow afternoon. Canterbury's next game will be at home to the James Blond Supercity Rangers (9-7) who are still one win away from a Final Four spot.
In Nelson the Mike Pero Giants have kept their playoff hopes alive with an unspectacular 90-77 win over the Indigo Hawks who now drop to 0-16. Ben Strong (29 points) and Ray Cowells (27) combined for 56 points and Phill Jones added 13 for the Giants who move to 9-8.
The Hawks had a strong second quarter winning it by five to tie the ball game 41 apiece at halftime. But Nelson would outscore the visitors 31-18 in the third and were able to have a comfortable buffer in the fourth quarter to end their two game losing streak.
Paora Winitana came off the bench to score 23 for the Hawks, but as a whole it was another substandard display offensively, shooting 36% from the field and 7/32 from three-point range.
Canterbury Rams 24
Wellington Saints 22
Southland Sharks 18
Super City Rangers 18
Nelson Giants 18
Taranaki Mountainairs 14