The Wheeler Motor Company Canterbury Rams and Sky Tower Auckland Huskies have played out a thriller at Cowles Stadium with the hometown Rams storming home with a 28-13 final quarter to grab an 88-78 win.
Played in front of a sell-out crowd, the locals came to life down the stretch as American guard Deshon Taylor poured in 19 of his 31 points in a show-stopping performance that brought the vocal audience to their feet.
The opening three quarters delivered a see-sawing battle, with the visiting Huskies holding the upperhand for the most part, thanks largely to Brook Ruscoe (26 points), Chris Johnson (19 points) and teenager Dontae Russo-Nance (19 points).
Jack Salt was a solid contributor across the night, dropping 22 points and grabbing a game-high 14 rebounds, his body of work and entertaining dunks were key to keeping the Rams in the fight.
Quintin Bailey (14 points) and Alex Talma (11 points) also did their bit for the Rams, adding to a 50-point haul for the home team inside the paint.
As good as the Huskies were for three quarters, they simply had no answer for Taylor and his heroics in the run to the final buzzer, the electrifying playmaker seemingly enjoying the moment as the crowd was eating from his hands.
Canterbury Rams (88) defeated Auckland Huskies (78) - BOXSCORE
Rams: Deshon Taylor 31pts, 8rbs, 7ast & 5 treys, Jack Salt 22pts & 14rbs, Quintin Bailey 14pts.
Huskies: Brook Ruscoe 26pts, Chris Johnson 19pts & 12rbs, Dontae Russo-Nance 19pts & 5 treys
Stuff MVP Votes
Deshon Taylor (Rams) 9
Jack Salt (Rams) 7
Chris Johnson (Huskies) 7
Dontae Russo-Nance (Huskies) 3
Brook Ruscoe (Huskies) 2
Alex Talma (Rams) 1
Zach Riley (Huskies) 1