The Taylor Hawke's Bay Hawks have ended the Sal's NBL regular season with another big win and an unbeaten record in the team's 9 matches at home in the Pettigrew Green Arena over the past 12 weeks.
They beat the Manawatu Jets 96-68 on Thursday night, the 28-points margin highlighting the dominance in a season which they started by beating the Canterbury Rams in the PGA on May 2, and which included a 88-82 win over favourites and now guaranteed top playoffs seed Wellington Saints.
The Jets, whom the Hawks also beat by 28 points in Palmerston North on June 20, scored the only points of the first minute in the latest game and once the Hawks had scored never saw the lead again, although the visitors did dominate the second quarter.
The Hawks, who had 5 losses in 9 away games, led 28-13 at the end of the first quarter, 42-34 at halftime, and 64-51 with just the last 10 minutes to go, a margin-inflating 31-17 rush to the finish.
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The home-team star was Devondrick Walker with 35pts, one of the highest scoops of the NBL season and including 7 three-pointers in a consistent attack of 14 attempts.
The playoffs are in Porirua next Thursday and Friday.
While not yet confirmed by league management, with the last 5 regular season matches to be played over this weekend, the Hawks expect to play Southland Sharks in one semi-final on Thursday night, and the Saints are expected to play Auckland Huskies in the other.
The Hawks beat the Sharks both home and away during the regular season, but the sides go into the playoffs with the same record of 13 wins and 5 losses.