Nuggets agonisingly close to comeback win

So close.

Jordan Ngatai’s layup just rimmed out in the final seconds to deny the Otago Nuggets a comeback win in Auckland last night.

The side was edged 106-105 by the table-topping Taranaki Mountainairs.

Otago started slowly and trailed by 14 in the second quarter. It conceded 32 points in the first quarter, followed by 29 more in the second.

But from there it lifted. Matt Bardsley (18 points) brought energy at both ends, while Jarrod Kenny (20 points) provided spark to ignite the Nuggets.

The team chipped away and finally claimed the lead in the last two minutes.

But Taranaki’s outstanding player from the first half, Denhym Brooke, had the final say. He made the layup to give the Mountainairs the last lead, before Ngatai’s rimmed out in the dying seconds.

Nuggets coach Brent Matehaere said the side’s slow start was costly.

"We gave up 32 points and 30 in the second quarter; that’s just bad defence," he said.

"It’s not standing up and basically manning up and making sure we’re playing man on man and playing it tough. We had to look at ourselves at halftime.

"But I’m proud of the way the guys came out in that third quarter and fronted up to a physical Taranaki Mountainairs team."

The Nuggets faced a 12-3 deficit early as the Taranaki offence clicked early and the Nuggets struggled to score. They kept key man Derone Raukawa quiet, but Denhym Brooke contributed 12 first-quarter points.

Bardsley began to spark the Nuggets offence and provided eight early points of his own. But the lack of defence became apparent and the Nuggets trailed 32-21 at the first break

and 61-49 at halftime.

At that point, Otago’s defence locked in. The Mountainairs took five minutes to get their first field goal.

But they were able to hold the lead as Raukawa began showing his all-round threat, getting to the hoop and the line, as well shooting from deep.

But the Nuggets continued to find their own production. Jordan Hunt (24 points) continued to chip in with points, while Jordan Ngatai found his way to the hoop and then the line after struggling early.

Taranaki took a seven-point lead to the final break.

Again the Nuggets hit big shots via Kane Keil and Josh Aitcheson.

But Taranaki answered every time, not letting the Nuggets closer than four. They finally got within three on a Kenny three-point play with four minutes to go. Kenny then pulled it back to one at 96-95 after hitting two more free throws.

A minute later, Hunt hit a free throw to tie the scores, before a Kenny transition lay-up gave the Nuggets the lead with under two minutes left.

Taranaki pulled back ahead, before Ngatai drew the defence and found Keil, who hit an open three in the corner.

Two free throws to Kenneth Tuffin were answered with a Bardsley lay-up.

But Brooke scored the final layup, before Ngatai was denied by the rim on the buzzer.

In the other game the Auckland Huskies beat the Franklin Bulls 86-82.

 

Add a Comment

 

Advertisement

postanote_header_620_x_80.png

postanote_620_x_25.jpg

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter