Gold Rush stay in finals hunt with wins

The playoffs just got a whole lot closer.

Two wins got the Otago Gold Rush's National Basketball League campaign back on track over the weekend in Auckland.

A 58-48 win over the Capital Swish on Saturday was followed by a 73-63 win over the Auckland Dream.

That followed losses in its first two games last week.

It leaves the Gold Rush tied for second — alongside four of the league's six teams — with one game against the winless Canterbury Wildcats remaining.

The league's top four advance to the semifinals.

A dominant second quarter laid the platform on Saturday.

The Gold Rush led 13-11 at the first break, but streaked out to 32-23 by halftime.

Te Araroa Sopoaga, who finished with 15 points and eight rebounds, was key in that.

The 18-year-old guard drove aggressively to get to the hoop, giving the Gold Rush nine of its 19 points in the quarter.

An eight-point run opened the quarter, Bronwyn Kjestrup and Wallbutton both joining Sopoaga in giving the side a 21-11 buffer.

Capital pulled back two baskets of its own, before Sopoaga scored seven points within a minute.

Savanna Handevidt followed that by finishing in transition to make it 30-17.

It was the key period in the game and while the Swish pulled back to 33-25 just after halftime, the Gold Rush stemmed the flow.

Zoe Richards (11 points) showed her ability to shoot from deep to help the Gold Rush take a 46-31 lead, a deficit the Swish could not haul in.

Meanwhile yesterday Sharne Robati got the Dream out to a 7-0 lead, before the Gold Rush bench sparked its offence.

Hannah Matehaere hit two shots, before a pair of threes from Tara Clement gave it a 19-14 lead at quarter-time.

That momentum continued in the second quarter with Robati on the bench in foul trouble.

Handevidt (15 points) was prominent in contributing seven points as Otago took a 28-20 lead.

The Dream hit back, but the Gold Rush stayed ahead 28-26 at halftime.

It gave that lead up midway through the third quarter after the Dream hit three from deep, but the Gold Rush rallied to lead 49-45 at the final break.

From there Otago clinically closed out the game.

It was drove aggressively to get to the hoop, before making its free throws as the Dream began fouling.

Richards (nine points, 14 rebounds) came up with a pair of key baskets, while Sopoaga (18 points) finished it off with seven free throws down the stretch.

The Gold Rush's final regular season against Canterbury is on Thursday.


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