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Bulls ease by Hawks; Tuatara defeat Nuggets

The Franklin Bulls and Auckland Tuatara enhanced their case for National Basketball League (NBL) playoffs byes with midweek road wins.

The Bulls handled a potentially tricky to Napier with ease, beating the Bay Hawks 101-79 on Wednesday night, while the Tuatara pulled away from the Otago Nuggets 87-78 in Dunedin on Thursday night.


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Former NZ Breakers development player Isaac Davidson went off, hitting seven triples for a career-high 30 points (11/15 FG, 7/9 3pt) and four rebounds.

Consistent import forward Luther Muhammad put up 25 points (10/18 FG) and eight boards, while Josh Scott scored 17 points (6/11 FG), five rebounds and five assists off the bench.

Tall Blacks guard Ethan Rusbatch had nine points (4/12 FG, 0/4 3pt) and six boards in his return to Hawke's Bay, where he spent five seasons before signing with the Bulls in the off-season.

American guard Isaiah Moore scored a game-high 33 points (12/24 FG, 3/5 3pt, 6/8 FT), along with four rebounds, three assists and two steals, while Kiwi forward Jordan Ngatai had 25 points (8/19 FG, 2/9 3pt, 7/7 FT) and five boards, Luke Sutherland 13 points (5/16 FG, 3/7 3pt) and seven boards, and Josh Roberts 16 rebounds and three blocks.

Isaac Davidson Franklin Bulls NBL basketball
Isaac Davidson scored a career-high 30 points for the Franklin Bulls. PHOTO: NBL

The Bulls, who shot 50 percent (10-of-20) on three-point attempts, took control against the Hawks in the second period.

Trailing by two, the visitors reeled off a 21-4 run, including 11 points from Davidson and eight from Muhammad, to end the period, leading 56-41 at halftime.

The Hawks only got as close 14 points the rest of the way as Franklin stretched the lead to 24 points after three quarters. The lead got as high as 27 points in the fourth before head coach Sebastian Gleim emptied his bench.

The Bulls (7-2) return to Pukekohe to host the Wellington Saints (6-2) in a top-four clash on Sunday (tip-off 3pm), while the Hawks (4-5) are on the road next Wednesday (tip-off 7.30pm) against the Taranaki Airs (6-3).

The Tuatara won their seventh straight game, and ninth in 11 games, cementing their place at the top of the standings.

Tall Blacks guard Corey Webster clearly won the battle against brother Tai, finishing with a game-high 22 points (9/24 FG) for the Tuatara, with eight rebounds and four assists. Tai Webster had just two points and three boards.

Kiwi big Rob Loe put up 19 points (5/12 FG, 3/7 3pt, 6/6 FT) and 11 rebounds, while Reuben Te Rangi provided 15 points (7/12 FG), four boards and two steals, and Tom Vodanovich 15 points (6/13 FG, 3/7 3pt), 12 rebounds and two steals.

In the loss, import guard Zaccheus Darko-Kelly posted 18 points (7/14 FG, 2/4 3pt), five boards and two steals and American forward Kimani Lawrence 16 points (7/14 FG) 10 rebounds. Australian Ben Henshall managed 11 points, four boards and four assists, and Kiwi big Jack Andrew 10 points, seven rebounds and two steals.

Rob Loe Auckland Tuatara NBL basketball
Rob Loe put up another double-double, with 19 points and 11 rebounds. PHOTO: NBL

Two stretches proved crucial for the Tuatara, who shot high percentages than the Nuggets and scored 44 points in the paint.

Auckland trailed by two early in the second period when they went on a 15-2 run over four minutes to lead 36-25 with 5:08 left in the half. The Nuggets put together a 16-2 burst of their own to take a one-point lead late in the third quarter.

But the Tuatara dominated from there, with a 12-1 run to take a 10-point lead entering the fourth, then a 20-10 surge to go up 82-62 with 4:21 remaining.

The Tuatara (9-2) continue on to Invercargill to face the winless Southland Sharks (0-10) on Saturday (tip-off 4pm), while the Nuggets (4-6) also next play the Sharks at Stadium Southland a week later (tip-off 4pm).

Franklin Bulls 101 (Isaac Davidson 30, Luther Muhammad 25, Josh Scott 17) Bay Hawks 79 (Isaiah Moore 33, Jordan Ngatai 25, Luke Sutherland 13). 1Q: 27-25, HT: 56-41, 3Q: 79-55

Auckland Tuatara 87 (Corey Webster 22, Rob Loe 19, Reuben Te Rangi 15, Tom Vodanovich 15) Otago Nuggets 78 (Zach Darko-Kelly 18, Kimani Lawrence 16, Dontae Russo-Nance 14, Ben Henshall 11, Jack Andrew 10). 1Q: 21-21, HT: 41-31, 3Q: 62-52


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