Nuggets suffer first loss

Otago Nuggets guard Zaccheus Darko-Kelly in action against the Wellington Saints at the Edgar...
Otago Nuggets guard Zaccheus Darko-Kelly in action against the Wellington Saints at the Edgar Centre. PHOTO: BLAKE ARMSTRONG
When it’s not your night, it’s not your night. The Otago Nuggets had their unbeaten run snapped after going down 105-71 against the Franklin Bulls last night.

It was a tough night for the Nuggets, but it was the second half that hurt them the most at the Franklin Pool and Leisure Centre.

It was a statement performance from the Bulls — all of their starting five finished on double digits — who have now jumped ahead of the Nuggets on the ladder, and are the only unbeaten team remaining.

Kimani Lawrence carried a huge work load for the Nuggets. He finished with 26 points and nine rebounds.

Ben Henshall also picked up a double-double with 18-points and 11 rebounds.

But the Nuggets really grappled to make things fall from deep, only banking five from 31 beyond the arch.

Darcy Knox joined the Nuggets starting five in the place of Tai Webster, who was suspended.

Coming up against his old side, Bulls centre Sam Timmins got his new team’s first points of the game.

He had an intriguing match-up against Nuggets centre Jack Andrew in the middle.

Andrew tipped the ball back in court to Lawrence, who finished with a nice bucket.

But the Bulls had a string of steals and put the Nuggets under pressure to pull away.

Bulls captain Ethan Rusbatch was unstoppable beyond the arch, and helped his side to a 29-20 lead at the first quarter.

He picked up where he left off in the second. The Bulls swung the ball to find Rusbatch wide open at the top and extend to a 10-goal lead.

Josh Scott, playing in his first game for the Bulls, had a wide open avenue to the bucket, but he offloaded nicely down to Isaac Davidson, who finished it off and drew a foul.

The Nuggets battled to make anything drop through the middle of the quarter and found themselves down by as much as 13 points.

But they came out hot after a time out.

Lawrence stole the ball from a Bulls throw in and drove hard to finish with a dunk.

The Nuggets went on a 7-0 run, but the Bulls were still out to a 52-41 lead by halftime.

Zaccheus Darko-Kelly came into the game more in the third.

He drove along the base, and flicked the ball back into Andrew to finish off an easy two in the paint. He also nailed a couple of important free throws.

But Timmins found a couple of nice buckets to punish at the end of the quarter, and Rusbatch banged down a deep three to make the lead 81-61.

The Bulls put their foot down in the fourth and stormed home.

There was better news in the Rapid League game. The Nuggets beat the Bulls 29-25.


The scores
Franklin Bulls
Luther Muhammad 25, Ethan Rusbatch 17
Otago Nuggets 71
Kimani Lawrence 26, Ben Henshall 18
Quarter scores: Bulls 29-20, 52-41, 81-61