The Canterbury Rams have beaten a tough Saints squad in Wellington tonight, coming from behind in the second quarter to earn an impressive 95-89 victory – also becoming the second team this season to earn their fourth win.
Playing on the second night of a back-to-back, Matur Maker was the difference-maker for the Rams in this one with 16 points (on 100% shooting from the field) and 14 rebounds off the bench.
Max Darling had 18 points & 6 rebounds and Mike Karena with 13 points & 7 rebounds, combining with Maker to dominate the Saints on the inside. Sam Smith also chipped in 12 points, as part of a huge bench effort which saw the Rams score 38 points off the bench compared to 8 from the Saints.
The Saints were led by Taane Samuel with a huge 30 points and 6 rebounds, while Tom Vodanovich contributed 16 points and 10 rebounds, Jordan Ngatai had 16 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists and Mike Smith had 14 points and 4 assists in the loss – which dropped the Saints to 0-4 on the season.
It was a back-and-forth affair over the first two quarters, with the Rams leading for most of the half but the Saints close behind – Kenneth Tuffin tying things up late in the 2nd quarter thanks to a corner three. The Rams too a 48-44 lead into the half on the strength of their shooting (19-38) and leading the rebound battle at 26-16; Sam Smith a sparkplug off the bench with 8 points in only 3 minutes.
The third quarter saw the Rams maintain their lead on their continued strong shooting, despite fierce pressure from the Saints - led by big men Samuel and Vodanovich who regularly battled in the paint against Darling, Makur and Karena.
Darling and Makur teamed up in the fourth quarter to pull away with the well-earned win, scoring 9 and 5 points respectively to hold off a desperate Saints side.
The win moves the Rams to 4-2, while the Saints drop to 0-4 and remain on the bottom of the table – but they will be buoyed by the appearance of their star import, Xavier Cooks, for their Round 5 game versus the Jets.
SCORE: Saints 95, Rams 89
Saints: Samuel 30 PTS & 6 REB | Vodanovich 16 PTS & 10 REB & 2 BLK | Ngatai 16 PTS & 6 REB & 4 ASS | Mike Smith 14 PTS & 4 ASS
Rams: Maker 16 PTS & 14 REB | Darling 16 PTS & 6 REB & 4 ASS & 2 BLK | Karena 13 PTS & 16 REB & 3 STL | Cook-Green 10 PTS & 3 ASS | Dech 12 PTS & 4 REB & 2 STL | Britt 4 PTS & 6 ASS
Full box score HERE.
Stuff MVP Votes
Matur Maker (Rams) - 8 votes
Max Darling (Rams) - 8 votes
Taane Samuel (Saints) - 8 votes
Tom Vodanoich (Saints) - 2 votes
Jordan Ngatai (Saints) - 2 votes
Sunday Dech (Rams) - 1 vote
Sam Smith (Rams) - 1 vote
Saints – Sun 29 May vs. Manawatu Jets
Rams – Thu 26 May vs. Hawke’s Bay Hawks