The Cigna Saints have had to hold off a furious comeback from the Augusta Airs to win 77-74.
Wellington were leading by 17 points going into the fourth quarter, but Taranaki close to within one point with twenty seconds remaining. Taranaki would foul Shaun Bruce who would make it a three point game.
A scrappy possession would ensue, but the Airs managed to get layup from Woods with under a second left. Airs would quickly foul Bruce again, and after deliberations on how much time was left, Bruce would finally go to the line to make both three throws.
After another delay on with the clock, the Airs finally inbounded the ball which ended on a Hail Mary pass to Javonte Douglas who would miss the game tying three.
Tonight, it was a mixed bag from the Airs, who came out firing in the opening quarter, leading by as many as seven. Woods (19 points) barrelled his way to ten points on 5 of 5 from the field to give his side a four point at quarter time.
But the second quarter would be the worst offensive showing of the season for the Airs, who would not score their first points until 3:18 left, ending the quarter with only three total. The Saints scored the first 13 points, winning the period 23-3.
Taranaki would improve in the third quarter, scoring 17, but with only 43 points and trailing by 17 it looked like a forgone conclusion. But after a quiet game, forward Javonte Douglas would score most if his 18 points in the fourth, plus Taranaki got bonus points from bench player, Dane Brooks, who would hit big shots down the stretch. Taranaki would end the quarter outscoring the Saints 31-17.
It was probably not the ideal finish from the Kevin Braswell coached side, but after playing the night before in Whanganui against the Jets, and also a home game on Tuesday against the Rams, they will be pleased to go 3-0.
Majok Majok would be lead the Saints with 18 points and seven rebounds, as he gained ascendancy inside the paint from the beginning, troubling his opposition, Xavier Smith, who was plagued with foul trouble, playing only 12 minutes. Both Shea Ili and Shaun Bruce would add 15 for Saints who go to 13-2 and remain on top with both the Mike Person Nelson Giants (11-3) and SIT Zerofees Sharks (10-3) not far behind.
The loss puts the Airs at 3-10, and it looks like they will need to win the remainder of their games, and hope other results go their way. But their oncoming schedule is difficult as they will embark on a tough road double next week against the SIT Zerofees Sharks on Thursday and then the Saints again on Saturday.
Week 11: Sunday, July 8
At TSB Stadium, New Plymouth
Augusta Mountainairs 74 (Roger Woods 19, Javonte Douglas 18)
Cigna Saints 77 (Majok Majok 18, Shaun Bruce 18, Shea Ili 18)