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Saints shoot lights out in NBL blowout of Jets


The Wellington Saints came out firing against the Manawatu Jets and never stopped.


The Saints connected on 21 three-pointers, a possible National Basketball League (NBL) record, on their way to a 122-88 victory at Wellington's TSB Arena on Wednesday night to open Week 11 play.


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Wellington shot 42 percent (21-of-50) from beyond the arc - not too far ahead of the Jets' 38 percent (10-of-26) - as they moved back into the top-four with their ninth win.


Australian Ben Ayre, Tall Blacks guard Izayah Le'afa and young guard Rangimarie Dougall-Mita led the way with five triples each, while Tall Blacks forward Tohi Smith-Milner and Tyson Thata hit two apiece.


Ayre scored a game-high 35 points (13/21 FG, 5/11 3pt, 4/4 FT), along with seven assists, while Le'afa finished with 21 points (6/16 FG, 5/13 3pt, 4/4 FT), five rebounds and five assists.


Smith-Milner also put up 21 points (8/12 FG, 2/4 3pt), 11 rebounds and three steals, and Dougall-Mita 15 points (5/12 3pt) and eight boards. Taane Samuel had 10 points (5/7 FG), six boards and two steals.


Ben Ayre Wellington Saints NBL basketball
Ben Ayre hit five triples in his game-high 35 points for the Wellington Saints. PHOTO: NBL

Kiwi forward James Moors led the Jets with 30 points (12/20 FG, 3/5 3pt, 3/7 FT) and six rebounds, while Mustapha Heron added 17 points (6/12 FG, 2/3 3pt, 3/5 FT) and Liam Judd 11 points (3/10 FG, 3/6 3pt), six rebounds and three steals.


The Saints only led by two approaching the midway point of the second quarter, but ended the half on a 24-8 run to lead by 18. They continued that momentum after the break, with a 21-10 burst to go up 78-49.


A 14-3 stretch early in the fourth quarter, which included Ayre and Dougall-Mita trading threes, grew the lead to almost 40 points, before both coaches unloaded their benches.


The Saints (9-4) travel to New Plymouth on Saturday (tip-off 7.30pm) to face the Taranaki Airs (9-3) in a top-four clash, while the Jets (1-12) host the Franklin Bulls (8-4) in Palmerston North on Sunday (tip-off 6.30pm)


Wellington Saints 122 (Ben Ayre 35, Izayah Le'afa 21, Tohi Smith-Milner 21, Rangimarie Dougall-Mita 15, Taane Samuel 10) Manawatu Jets 88 (James Moors 30, Mustapha Heron 17, Liam Judd 11, Kahlil Whitney 10, Campbell Scott 10). 1Q: 28-21, HT: 57-39, 3Q: 95-67

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