The Southland Sharks have kept their Top-6 hopes alive with a 103-102 win over the Wheeler Motor Company Canterbury Rams in Invercargill on Saturday night.
The Southland Sharks are no strangers to hot starts to games and that's exactly what we saw in this one. They jumped out to a 28-22 lead after the first quarter thanks to some hot shooting from beyond the arc from Mojave King and Alonzo Burton.
The Rams put together a strong second quarter through their work on the offensive glass. Canterbury collected nine offensive rebounds in the first half to help them claw back into the game. They simply outworked the Sharks in the second quarter and it reflected on the score board.
The Rams outscored the Sharks 32-24 in the second to give them a 54-52 lead at halftime. Sunday Dech was his usual productive self with 11 points, but it was Walter Brown who again had a noticeable impact off the Rams' bench. He had nine points and a pair of offensive rebounds on 3-of-4 shooting from three in the first half; Brown was a big reason for Canterbury's second quarter run.
The Sharks found their footing again in the third quarter, dropping 29 points and getting a stunning half court buzzer beater from Mojave King to thrust them into the fourth. They were battling a Rams team without their coaching staff due to a gastro bug, so persistence and a sound game plan would be enough to get them across the line.
The Rams put up an almighty fight for an understaffed team, and they lost Max Darling in the second half after a nasty fall where he hit his head on the court. He would not return to the game with a suspected concussion.
Captain Alonzo Burton ultimately hit the dagger 3-pointer to give the Sharks a crucial home win and keep them in the hunt. The Rams wouldn't go away down the stretch, and a lot of fumbled opportunities by the Sharks kept Canterbury close, but they made the plays when it mattered and were rewarded with the victory.
SCORE: Sharks 103, Rams 102
Sharks: King 26 PTS 10-16 FG, 5-9 3PT | Shepard III 15 PTS, 10 REB | Knight 12 PTS, 10 AST
Rams: Dech 18 PTS | Austin Jr. 14 PTS, 13 REB | Britt 17 PTS, 8 AST
Full box score HERE.
Stuff MVP Votes
Mojave King (Sharks) - 8 votes
Daishon Knight (Sharks) - 6 votes
Winston Shepard III (Sharks) - 6 votes
Larry Austin Jr. (Rams) - 5 votes
Taylor Britt (Rams) - 5 votes
Sharks – July 1 vs. Auckland Tuatara
Rams – July 2 @ Franklin Bulls
Round 9 Sal's NBL Schedule