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Whai's Bezzant sinks Bulls at the buzzer

Jayden Bezzant had no interest in overtime. Instead, he called game.

The former 3x3 Tall Blacks guard hit the game-winning three from the top of the arch as the Tauranga Whai upset the Franklin Bulls 87-84 at Mercury Baypark in the National Basketball League (NBL) on Thursday night.


With the game tied with 2.6 seconds remaining, Bezzant took the inbounds pass outside the three-point line, turned, took one dribble to his left and launced the winner over Isaac Davidson as time expired.

Bezzant was having a rough night before that point, with just six points on 2-of-9 shooting, including missing all five of his three-point attempts. He finished with nine points and five assists.

American power forward Phil Carr scored a game-high 29 points (11/15 FG, 4/6 3pt, 3/4 FT) and grabbed nine rebounds for the Whai, who trailed by 10 points with 6:06 remaining, before completing an unlikely comeback to keep their faint playoffs hopes alive.

Former Tall Blacks guard Kruz Perrott-Hunt finished with 18 points (8/17 FG) and five boards, while import shooting guard Demarcus Holland had 15 points (6/11 FG, 2/5 3pt), seven rebounds, six assists and two steals.

For the Bulls, forward Luther Muhammad top-scored again with 23 points (9/20 FG, 4/4 FT) and three steals, supported by fellow import Josh Scott with 22 points (9/14 FG), seven rebounds, five assists and two steals.

Trailing 76-66, the Whai scored 10 straight points over the next two-and-a-half minutes to draw level with 3:53 to play.

A Denhym Brooke three gave the Whai their first lead second late in the second quarter with 1:37 remaining. Muhammad retook the lead for the Bulls, before a Holland three with 30 seconds left put the Whai up two and two Muhammad free-throws with 18 seconds left tied it up for the 10th time.

The Whai (7-11) next face the Wellington Saints (11-6) in the Capital on Wednesday (tip-off 7.30pm), while the Bulls (10-6) will look to bounce back at home against the Auckland Tuatara (14-3) on Saturday (tip-off 7.30pm).

Tauranga Whai 87 (Phil Carr 29, Kruz Perrott-Hunt 18, Demarcus Holland 15) Franklin Bulls 84 (Luther Muhammad 23, Josh Scott 22, Lee Skinner 14, Sam Timmins 11). 1Q: 19-17, HT: 44-45, 3Q: 62-67


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