The Night 'n Day Otago Nuggets have recorded their fifth straight victory with an 89-72 win over the Southland Sharks in Invercargill.
The Nuggets' defence restricted the Sharks to just 15 points in the first quarter and managed 22 of their own thanks to handy contributions from Nikau McCullough and Todd Withers. They would combine for 29 points in the first half, fueling Otago to a 43-38 lead at the break. McCullough finished with 19 points, four steals and three blocks - showcasing his defensive capabilities in this one, too.
The Sharks gained some momentum in the second quarter and outscored the Nuggets 23-21. They received a balanced scoring effort from their starters in the first half led by Brayden Inger with eight points on 2-of-4 from three. Inger was held scoreless in the second half, though - a testament to the Nuggets' defence.
Southland were without Mojave King in this match up and his 20.6 PPG would have really provided a boost. He started feeling unwell after morning shootaround and wasn't well enough to take the court. He should be back for the Sharks' next game against the Giants.
The Sharks kept themselves in the contest through three quarters but it went downhill in the fourth, as they were outscored 26-11 by a hungry Nuggets team. Otago's starting five is going to be tough to handle for all comers this season with their ability to score in a variety ways a real challenge for opposing defences. They travel to New Plymouth to battle the Taranaki Airs on Sunday.
SCORE: Sharks 72, Nuggets 86
Sharks: Kelman-Poto 21 PTS, 15 REB | Shepard 14 PTS, 12 REB
Nuggets: Withers 23 PTS, 15 REB | Timmins 14 PTS, 14 REB | Williams 21 PTS
Full box score HERE.
Stuff MVP Votes
Todd Withers (Nuggets) - 10 votes
Dom Kelman-Poto (Sharks) - 8 votes
Nikau McCullough (Nuggets) - 3 votes
Sam Timmins (Nuggets) - 3 votes
Winston Shepard (Sharks) - 2 votes
Tahjere McCall (Nuggets) - 2 votes
Keith Williams (Nuggets) - 2 votes
Sharks - Jun 2 vs. Nelson Giants
Nuggets - May 29 @ Taranaki Air