Sharks victory another blow for Nuggets

Ben Henshall top-scored for the Otago Nuggets. Photo: ODT (file)
Ben Henshall top-scored for the Otago Nuggets. Photo: ODT (file)
The Otago Nuggets are halfway down the slope and scrambling for traction.

They were taken apart by the previously winless Southland Sharks in Invercargill on Saturday afternoon.

The 99-81 loss put another big dent in their playoff credentials.

Southland outscored their rivals 55-34 in the second half to break an 11-game losing streak this season.

Brayden Inger top-scored with 22, pulled down 12 boards and made five steals in a busy shift.

Caleb Asberry (21 points) and Alonzo Burton (20 points) featured strongly as well, while Callum McRae collected a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Ben Henshall (20 points) and Dontae Russo-Nance (19 points) put in a good effort for the visitors.

But the loss means the Nuggets (4-7) have lost seven of their last eight games.

The early moments were untidy. The Nuggets took more than two minutes to score.

Asberry made a couple of nice drives to the basket for Southland.

Henshall knocked down a three-pointer to relieve some tension in the Nuggets’ camp, and Darcy Knox buried a three as well.

Russo-Nance landed a triple to get his tally under way and followed up with a nice drive into the paint for two more.

He also hit a jumper on the buzzer to give Otago a 26-18 lead at the end of the first quarter

The Sharks hit back with eight quick points, including a three-pointer from Inger which bounced of the top edge of the backboard and fell through the hoop.

It was ugly but it still counts.

Henshall connected from well behind the arc. But it was a rare moment to celebrate in the second period.

American import Zaccheus Darko-Kelly drilled a three-pointer late in the quarter. But he went completely missing during the second half of the game.

Starting centre Jack Andrew had another quiet game as well.

Coach Brent Matehaere got called for a technical foul late in the half which helped the Sharks cut into the lead.

The home team trailed 47-44 at halftime but made a partial run midway through the third period. Burton knocked down a three and a couple of free throws.

The Nuggets kept their nose in front until Marcale Lotts nabbed and steal and slammed in a dunk with the third quarter winding down.

It was the spark the the Sharks needed.

Cooper Rob, who played all 40 minutes, hit a dagger three which was followed up by a triple from Burton for a 70-66 lead with 10 minutes to play.

Inger kept popping up in the right place at the right time on his way to a season-high haul.

The Nuggets were struggling to get a stop and their shots were not dropping at the other end either.

Inger helped himself to two more under the hoop for an easy lay-up - where was the defence?

The Nuggets were crushed 29-15 in the final quarter. That will be a hard section of the game tape to review.


The scores

Southland Sharks 99 (Brayden Inger 22, Caleb Asberry 21)

Otago Nuggets 81 (Ben Henshall 20, Dontae Russo-Nance 19)

Quarter scores: 18-26, 44-47, 70-66.