The Canterbury Rams have seen off the Hawke's Bay Hawks 87-79 in a game with plenty of feeling at Cowles Stadium.
The game was in danger of not going ahead with the stadium roof springing a few leaks over a weekend of wild weather in Christchurch, but a stellar effort from the ground crew, including shifting the court 2 metres, allowed for a great game of basketball in front of yet another sold out crowd.
EJ Singler set the tone early for the Rams as they rushed out to an 11-5 lead, while the Hawks struggle to find rhythm less than 24 hrs after a close loss to the Giants in Nelson. Derone Raukawa caused trouble as usual, darting into the lanes and finding shooters, but the shots didn't drop in the first term, and the Rams lead 27-17 after the first quarter.
In danger of being left behind, the Hawks found a hot hand in Devondrick Walker in the second quarter, who rushed out to 16 points with five quick 3pters to keep the Hawks withing 8 at the half, while Deshon Taylor began to impose his will on the game, displaying his repertoire of scoring options.
The Hawks needed one of Hyrum Harris and Ethan Rusbatch to join the party in the third quarter, and with the former in foul trouble, it was Rusbatch who improved on his 3 first half points, pouring in 20 after the big break. The feeling that had been brewing throughout the game came to a boil in the second half, with Taylor and Rusbatch jawing at each other constantly. It culminated with Raukawa and Ben Constable clashing at half court, with technical fouls dished out to both.
The Hawks kept it close down the stretch, but when Deshon Taylor stole the ball off Walker at half court, and Walker was called for an unsportsmanlike foul for his response, the game was the Rams to lose. Free throws were made down the stretch and the Rams improve to 4-3, while the Hawks fall to the same record.
Canterbury Rams (87) beat Hawke's Bay Hawks (79) BOXSCORE
Stuff MVP votes
Deshon Taylor (Rams) 10pts
Ethan Rusbatch (Hawks) 7pts
EJ Singler (Rams) 5pts
Devondrick Walker (Hawks) 4pts
Jono Janssen (Hawks) 3pts
Quintin Bailey (Rams) 1pt