The Taylor Hawke's Bay Hawks have gone one-step closer to securing second-place in the 2019 Sal's NBL regular season, cruising to victory over the Taranaki Steelformers Mountainairs 101-75.
It was the home team that got off to the hotter start, leading the Airs very early on 7-2. The visitors struck back to tie the game at the halfway point in the quarter, but a 10-0 run by the Hawks gave them the advantage at the first interval. Five different players scored for the hosts and they led 31-24.
Taranaki was more assertive on both ends in the following period and this got them back into the contest. Justin Cousin and Oscar Robertson provided the spark in the Airs' offence and at one stage saw them draw level with their foes. Points to Ethan Rusbatch made sure the visitors didn't fully swing the momentum and kept them ahead 50-46 at the half.
The game ended up being a game of two halves, with the Hawks stamping their dominance in the third period. A 20-2 run put the hosts well clear of the Airs and opened the flood gates for what eventuated to be an insurmountable 30-point advantage.
It was the usual suspects for the Hawks that put them over the top, as Brandon Bowman, EJ Singler and Rusbatch all scored 14+ points to guide their team to yet another big victory. Dion Prewster and Everard Bartlett also chimed in with some big baskets over the course of the game and are proving to outsiders that the Hawks run seven-deep.
The aforementioned cliche was more a reflection of the Airs than the hosts, as they just weren't able to replicate the same ability they had shown in the first half. Cousin finished with 17 after scoring, at the time, a game-high 15 in the opening half, leaving the visitors in the Hawks dust.
Taranaki Airs 75 lost to Hawke's Bay Hawks 105
Hawks - Brandon Bowman 27pts, 6rbs & 6ast, EJ Singler 21pts & 10rbs, Ethan Rusbatch 14pts & 6rbs.
Airs - Alonzo Burton 17pts, 7rbs & 6ast, Justin Cousin 17pts, Dane Brooks 11pts & 4rbs.
FULL STATS HERE.
Photo credit: PhotosportNZ