A late third quarter blitz has given the Southland Sharks a 95-83 win over the Nelson Giants in their New Zealand National Basketball League match in Invercargill on Saturday night.
Tall Blacks centre Alex Pledger scored a game high 21 points, along with six rebounds and three blocks, while Mitch Norton grabbed six rebounds and seven assists to deny the Giants their third win-in-a-row in their second of three away games in five days.
It took until the final stages of the third quarter for the Sharks to assert their authority on the game.
"Credit to them they hung in there they did a great job trying to be a nuisance and making shots when they need to," Sharks coach Judd Flavell said.
"We just couldn't get a run going and any time we would get close to it they would come down and got a basket or would draw a foul and go to the line."
"We got a couple of stops and steals, which led to transition baskets and fouls and that came as a result of the defence that we had and we were able to get that momentum and run going, because we struggled to find the momentum before that."
The Sharks opened the scoring through Luke Aston and took the early lead.
The Sharks were leading 10-4 at midway through the first quarter at ILT Stadium Southland before the Giants fought their way back to draw the scores level at 10-10.
A flurry of three pointers by the Giants took them into the lead 16-14 with four minutes left in the first quarter as the teams finished the first quarter 25-25.
The Sharks were left to rue their shooting from beyond the arc in the opening stanza with 1/7, compared with the Giants who shot 4/6 three pointers to leave the game level at 25-25 at the end of the first quarter.
The Sharks stretched their lead to 36-30 at one stage as their big men Alex Pledger and Nick Kay started to dominate inside.
The Giants clawed their way back to level it at 36-36 with four minutes to go before halftime as their superior shooting from long range started to make the Sharks pay.
A late surge by Southland took them into halftime with a 45-40 lead.
The Sharks stretched their lead to seven points, before the Giants clawed their way back to take the lead 50-49 after two minutes of the third quarter.
The home team landed some late shots in the third quarter to extend their lead to a game high 11 points with a 73-62 scoreline at the end of the third quarter.
This seemed to ignite the home team as they never relinquished their lead.
They kept their noses in front throughout the fourth quarter and a late flurry rubbed salt into the Giants' wounds at one stage extending the lead to 92-73, before the Giants reduced the final score to 95-83.
AT A GLANCE
Southland Sharks 95 (Alex Pledger 21, Luke Aston 15, Nick Kay 15), Nelson Giants 83 (Finn Delany 14, Kyle Adnam 14, Morgan Grim 14); 1Q: 25-25; HT: 45-40; 3Q: 73-62.
Article and image courtesy of The Southland Times