Nuggets feel pain late as Hawks rally to finish with victory

The last few minutes of the game tape will be hard to watch for the Otago Nuggets.

Their game with the Hawke’s Bay Hawks in Napier on Saturday afternoon was firmly in the balance.

The Nuggets led 103-102 with three and a-half minutes remaining.

Tai Webster added a further two for the Nuggets but the Hawks did the rest of the scoring to win 116-105.

Keanu Rasmussen scored 24 of his 27 points in the first half and Isaiah Moore added a game-high 30.

Webster posted 27 points and eight assists, Kimani Lawrence added 22 points before hobbling off in the final minute with an ankle injury, and Ben Henshall got hot in the third quarter and banked 20 points.

But no-one in sky blue could score when it counted the most, and the Nuggets have slipped to 4-5.

Webster got himself involved early with some nice plays.

He sent Moore tumbling with a rambunctious drive into the paint, though.

That particular play resembled a loose forward charging at the line and dropping his shoulder. Webster copped a charging foul for it.

Zaccheus Darko-Kelly popped in a three to give the Nuggets a 15-6 lead midway through the opening period.

Lawrence wriggled his way to the hoop for a basket, but Moore responded with a floater and he was starting to warm into his work.

The Nuggets took a healthy 34-23 lead into the break courtesy of some quality outside shooting.

Rasmussen helped trim the deficit with an early maximum in the second period and Roberts rolled in a hook shot.

His value, though, was snatching the ball off the glass. He pulled down 20 rebounds to go with his 13 points.

Moore drifted in another floater to cut the gap to one point and Rasmussen nailed another three-pointer.

He banged in a mid-range jumper to give the Hawks their first lead of the game midway through the quarter.

Jordan Ngatai (20 points) backed his way to the hoop and tossed in another.

The Hawks had all the momentum and outscored the Nuggets 36-20 to take a 59-54 lead into the halftime break.

The Nuggets needed to reset their defence and take better care of the ball.

Henshall hit back-to-back threes early in the third and made a lay-up from a fast break.

But Ngatai fancied his match-up with Darko-Kelly and hit a couple of shots over the top of his marker.

Webster responded. He hit the after-burners and ghosted to the hoop for the and-one.

Lawrence kept plugging away in the paint, and with 10 minutes to go it was 88-88.

The Nuggets got out to a 99-94 lead but the Hawks rallied and finisher stronger, and Otago shooters missed pretty much everything down the stretch.

The Nuggets won the Rapid League game against the Hawks 29-27. Matthew Bardsley drilled two free throws in the final seconds to clinch the win.


The scores

Hawke’s Bay Hawks               116
Isaiah Moore 30, Keanu Rasmussen 27

Otago Nuggets                        105
Tai Webster 27, Kimani Lawrence 22

Quarter scores:  23-34, 59-54, 88-88.