A flawless National Basketball League season remains a possibility for the Wellington Saints after they dispatched the Supercity Rangers 98-87 at TSB Bank Arena.
A win looked far from a sure thing until Rangers guard Lindsay Tait was fouled out of the game, picking up his fifth foul just 40 seconds into the final period.
This allowed the Saints to round out the match with a comfortable margin of victory, though Rangers coach Jeff Green will be wondering what could have been if Brook Ruscoe didn't sprain his ankle in last night's win over the Taranaki Mountainairs and sit out tonight's game.
Yet again, Corey Webster top-scored for the home team, scoring 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting in the first half on his way to a 37 point night.
It was a much more spread scoring effort for the Rangers with five players, including Tait, reaching double-digit scoring, though it was on the defensive end where they failed to match the home team.
The Saints, playing in a special purple strip recognising former chairman Justin Toebes and helping bring attention to motor neurone disease, repeatedly scored in transition with their trademark fast-paced offence got them out to an early 14-6 lead thanks to the early offence from Webster and Josh Duinker (12 points, 12 rebounds).
The Rangers, however, were doing themselves no favours, beginning the match on 27 per cent shooting to go with four turnovers.
The fact that 18-year-old guard Isaac Letoa got first-quarter minutes was evidence that Saints coach Kevin Braswell was already comfortable with his side's lead - a lead that would continue to grow.
That was until Braswell emptied much of his bench, opening the door for a 9-0 Rangers run to tighten the gap to 10 points.
With the Rangers threatening to further reduce the margin, Braswell returned his starters to the floor, though that didn't do much to stem the flow with the Rangers working the Saints' lead down to just seven points at the half.
Webster began to cool down from his 23 point first half, missing his next three shots as the Rangers came out of the break with a much stiffer defence.
Still, though, the Saints managed to hold off all the Rangers could provide as coach Green began to provide the officials with an array of advice after Tait picked up a technical foul for his back-chat to referee.
Tait would then be fouled out of the game to shoot down much of the Rangers' hopes of getting a victory.
The Saints closed out the match with a 26 point fourth quarter, seeing them move to 11-0. The Rangers' record now sits at 5-5.
In Invercargill, the Southland Sharks took advantage of a hot start to beat the Canterbury Rams 105-94.
Mitch Norton was the man mainly responsible for the Sharks' 32 first-quarter points, while the return of league MVP McKenzie Moore was fruitless for the Rams in the opening spell as the star import failed to record any points.
The Sharks' control over the game carried over to the second spell as they would enter the half up 58-46 thanks to Norton and Luke Aston's 10 points each.
However, the flow of the game changed dramatically changed as Marcel Jones and Jeremy Kendle propelled the visitors to a 31-19 quarter, scoring 10 and 11 points in the period respectively to tie the game up at 77-all.
The Sharks, though, found their groove defensively to hold the Rams to just 17 points in the final spell to pick up the win, strengthening their foothold on the second spot on the NBL ladder. Their record improves to 7-3 while the Rams fall below .500 to 5-6.