The Taylor Hawke's Bay Hawks have handed the Auckland Tuatara their first loss of the season with a 75-74 win on Wednesday night.
The Hawks jumped out to an early 9-2 advantage as the Tuatara tried to work in new import Siler Schneider, but Auckland quickly got it going and found themselves in front after the first quarter 21-17.
Fresh off his Performance of the Week award in Round 3, Chris Johnson wasted no time doing damage in the first half with 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field. Like previous matchups, Johnson was proving to be a handful for a Hawks team that has struggled to contain opposing big men early in the season. He finished with a game-high 29 points to go with 10 rebounds and four blocks in 33 minutes of work.
The Hawks hit three 3-pointers in the first half, with guard Derone Raukawa responsible for two of those en route to 10 points at the break. Raukawa totaled 18 points for the game with four 3-pointers.
The Hawks started the second half strong, too, opening on a monster 17-2 run. It was Raukawa and Harris doing most of the damage for the Hawks in the third, but the Tuatara found their footing to cut the deficit to four heading into the final quarter. Harris narrowly missed out on a triple-double with 16 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, two steals and two blocks, and his defence throughout the course of the game helped make an impact for the Hawks.
It was a thrilling finish at Eventfinda stadium with the game tied at 73 in the closing seconds. Ethan Rusbatch nailed two free throws to give the Hawks a two point edge, and Tuatara guard Chris McIntosh would go on to make one of two free throws at the other end.
SCORE: Tuatara 74, Hawks 75
Tuatara: Johnson 29 PTS & 10 REB | Schneider 12 PTS, 4 REB, 3 AST, 3 STL
Hawks: Harris 16 PTS, 10 REB, 8 AST, 2 STL, 2 BLK | Raukawa 18 PTS | Hunt 18 PTS, 8 REB | Rusbatch 12 PTS, 10 REB, 4 STL
Full box score HERE.
Stuff MVP Votes
Chris Johnson (Tuatara) - 9 votes
Jordan Hunt (Hawks) - 8 votes
Hyrum Harris (Hawks) - 5 votes
Derone Raukawa (Hawks) - 4 votes
Ethan Rusbatch (Hawks) - 2 votes
Siler Schneider (Tuatara) - 2 votes
Tuatara - May 28 vs. Franklin Bulls
Hawks - May 26 @ Canterbury Rams
Round 4 Sal's NBL Schedule