The Saints showed why they're the favourites to win the 2019 Sal's NBL tonight, taking down a classy Hawks side 99-74.
EJ Singler got off to a hot start for the Hawks, cashing in nine points in the first half on 80% from the field, but his team still trailed 19-13 at the first break.
For the Saints it was Rob Loe doing the damage on the scoreboard. The big man went to work down low and he too notched nine points in ten minutes.
A six-point lead quickly turned to 11 for the visitors, with Sunday Dech hitting nothing but net on a wing triple and Tom Abercrombie cutting inside for an easy two.
The Hawks struggled to get into a groove in the second, but were persistent with shooting it from the outside. The stubbornness paid off at the back end of the quarter, when they cut the lead to five off the back of a Ethan Rusbatch three.
Trips to the line and a buzzer beating tip in for the Saints pushed their lead back out to nine, but they would have been ruing the momentary lapses that let the Hawks back in the game.
Offensive rebound were a problem for the Hawks, who gave up 13 in the first half. This problem continued into the third period, with Jordan Ngatai snagging his teammates' misses on back-to-back possessions.
Defence put the Saints in the driver's seat in the opening 20 and they followed this game plan to keep their buffer. Tom Abercrombie showed off his leaping ability with a dunk off a Nick Kay dish and provided the pass before the pass to see the score read 71-62 in their favour.
The Hawks needed to put the ball in basket in the final 10 minutes and unfortunately it just never got going. Their work in their own end of the court just didn't translate to points and noticeable drop in the confidence resulted in a larger deficit.
Rob Loe was a headache for the hosts all night and he kept that nagging pain alive well into the fourth. He helped his team go on an 8-0 midway through the fourth and scored seven points in the quarter to guide his team home 99-74.
This result all but wrapped up top spot for the Saints, who put the league on notice with this thrashing of the second best team in the competition. Their talent and ability on both ends of the floor seems to be unbeatable.
Wellington Saints 99 defeated Hawke's Bay Hawks 74
Saints - Rob Loe 26pts & 9ast, Nick Kay 16pts, 6rbs, 4ast, Jordan Ngatai 13 pts & 9rbs.
Hawks - EJ Singler 25pts, 12rbs, 4ast, Brandon Bowman 14pts & 9rbs, Jarrod Kenny 10pts & 4ast.
Stats That Matter - the Saints made the Hawks pay for their lack of focus under the basket and brought down 20 offensive boards. These second chance possessions resulted in a lot of easy points for the visitors and made the Hawks defensive efforts ultimately count for nothing.
TAB MVP Votes - Rob Loe (Saints) 10, Tom Abercrombie (Saints) 7, EJ Singler (Hawks) 7, Brandon Bowman (Hawks) 3, Nick Kay (Saints) 2, Shea Ili (Saints) 1.