Tag: emily knight

Gold Rush grab second as 18IN18 season wraps up

OTAGO Gold Rush have capped off their strong 2020 New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) season by grabbing second spot on the ladder in the 18IN18 competition following a commanding 72-58 win over Canterbury Wildcats. The winless Wildcats were always going to finish bottom after an 0-4 start, but the Gold Rush needed a win to secure second spot, which they did so thanks to a 14-point triumph.

Scoring the opening basket of the game and never surrendering the lead, the Gold Rush set the tone from the start, and kept the Wildcats to single-digit points in two of the four quarters. It was Hayley Gray and Te Araroa Sopoaga who nailed back-to-back jumpers for an early 4-0 lead. Emily Knight got her side on the board, but a layup from Zoe Richards – who would put in a sensational performance on the night – grabbed her first points in response.

Soon the lead extended as Tara Clement and Richards pushed it out to eight midway through the quarter, and with 4:43 on the clock, the score was 11-2 and the game was looking like a blowout. Luckily for the Wildcats, Katherine Jones hit a crucial triple, and that triggered eight straight points for the underdogs to get within one, but as the game would have it, never hit the front. Instead, Olivia O’Neill steadied by converting a layup And-One chance, and then Richards extended the lead out in response to Shea Crotty‘s triple for the Wildcats. As soon as the lead had got out to seven, Crotty hit another three, and Tiana Placid nailed a two-point jumper in the dying seconds to draw the Wildcats to within two at the first break.

In a repeat of the first term, Gray was the first on the board for the Gold Rush, extending the lead out to four in the opening minute. Once again a fast start was putting Otago on top as Richards and then Lisa Wallbutton added points for a 7-0 start to the quarter. Placid scored her side’s first points midway through the term, but Fayreen Fualau provided support, and Richards did the rest, going on a scoring spree with six straight points being amongst a 16-2 run in the first eight minutes.

With two minutes on the clock, Canterbury was staring down the barrel of a single-basket quarter, but luckily a late hookshot from Isabelle Cook, and then a triple with 50 seconds later saved her side from being completely out of it, and the deficit was 11 points at the half, 36-25.

Just as the game looked to be passing the Wildcats by, Knight, Gemma Etheredge and Brittany Richards all put points on the board as the losing side scored the first seven points of the second half. The celebrations were short lived as Bronwyn Kjestrup and Savanna Handevidt hit their first shots, but again Knight and Rosalia Samia came to the party and the deficit was back to four.

For all of Otago’s dominance earlier, it was still very much game on. The Wildcats were keeping it in single digits, though the Gold Rush were threatening to run away with the contest. At one stage Etheredge’s free throws had dragged Canterbury to within three points, but the Gold Rush again pulled away with Handevidt and Clement taking control, and with the last basket of the quarter, the Gold Rush were up by seven at the final break.

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, the Gold Rush came good on their threat to run away with the contest in the final term, as Zoe Richards hit the first jumper, and when Gray nailed a jumper four minutes into the term, the the Gold Rush were up by 12. Fualau hit some late points, and with time the enemy for the Wildcats, they just ran out of it, and the Gold Rush did enough to secure the win by 14 points.

The Gold Rush were simply too good across the board with a 49 per cent clip from the field compared to the Wildcats’ 30 per cent, though the latter had the same amount of three-point attempts as two-pointers (36) whilst the Gold Rush only had six long-range attempts but nailed three of them. They also won the rebound (50-39), block (3-0) and bench points (29-22), though the Wildcats were on top in the assists (16-14), steals (20-15) and second chance points (17-15). Remarkably, Canterbury also had less turnovers (24-31) and made the Gold Rush pay with 32 points from turnovers to Otago’s 18.

Zoe Richards was dominant with 21 points, nine rebounds and five steals, hitting two of the Gold Rush’s three triples. Clement came off the bench for 12 points, three rebounds and two steals, while the likes of Wallbutton (10 rebounds, three assists and three steals), Sopoaga (six points, five rebounds and six assists) and Kjestrup (five rebounds, two steals) all had impacts off the boards.

For the Wildcats, Crotty and Knight both scored a team-high 11 points, whilst Etheredge was crucial thanks to 11 rebounds, six steals and three assists to go with five points. Brittany Richards had four points and five rebounds, while Cook came off the bench for 10 points, two rebounds and two assists.

Otago Gold Rush now takes on Waikato Wizards tomorrow night for a place in the grand final against the winner of undefeated Harbour Breeze and Capital Swish tonight.

Picture: Photosport

Swish second half hands Wildcats a second loss

CAPITAL Swish have kick-started their 2020 New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) 18IN18 season on the right note with a 13-point victory over Canterbury Wildcats last night. The Wildcats were handed their second consecutive loss on the weekend following their defeat at the hands of Auckland Dream the night before, and despite a strong first half, were overrun by a fresh Swish outfit as the side got up 55-42.

Capital Swish started the game on fire with Maia Jean Watene scoring the first points of the game, and after a couple of misses from the Wildcats, Sariah Penese made good on two free throws. Brittany Richards returned the favour from the charity stripe not long after to get her team on the board, before Watene and Paris Lokotui pushed the margin out to five in the first half of the quarter.

Terai-Ma-Teata Elia stepped up at a crucial point with five points in the space of 19 seconds to level the match at the four and a half minute mark, before Emily Knight and Katherine Jones helped it become a 9-0 run in favour of the Wildcats. Letava Whippy soon ended that run with a triple to cut the deficit to one point, then Lokotui and Te Huinga Selby-Rickit scored in the final 80 seconds to give the Swish a three-point lead at the break.

Richards scored an important basket in the opening minute of the second term, but Selby-Rickit quickly countered that with a jump shot of her own. The teams traded blows and also missed a number of opportunities with defensive pressure mounting. Isabella Luhetoa found her range from outside the arc, tying the scores with just over four minutes into the term. Elia helped her team gain the lead, but it was only four 22 seconds until Penese dropped another triple for the Swish to regain the advantage at 22-21.

Another triple, this time to Grace Simi Vaofusi, had the Swish out to a four-point lead, but the last two baskets of the term, went to the Wildcats and Samia and Knight to be exact. A couple of late turnovers in the final 40 seconds hurt the Swish as the teams headed into the break all-square at 25-25 after a low-scoring half.

Samia was the first out of the blocks in the second half, securing one of two free throws for her Wildcats team to edge ahead, but Whippy and Penese quickly added points to go a basket up. The lead grew to four until Luhetoa sank a triple midway through the quarter to draw within a point again, but the Swish answered through Whippy and Selby-Rickit to go out to a five-point lead.

A successful free throw and lay up from Samia cut the deficit to two with just under four minutes on the clock, but back-to-back baskets from Penese and Whippy extended it back out to the largest margin of the game with a six-point advantage. Luhetoa put up a triple with 19 seconds on the clock to draw within three, and it looked to be the last basket of the game, before a sensational buzzer beater by Lokotui gave the Swish a five-point lead at the last break, and most importantly the confidence to go on with it.

Lokotui and Watene both made successful two-pointers either side of a Samaia triple after an opening first few minutes that yielded no scores. By the mid-part of the term, the game looked over as Vaofusi and Taulelei successfully hit a combined five points and the lead had blown out to 11, and while Richards and Elia tried their best late in the contest, the work of Lokotui and Selby-Rickit was too much, as the pair combined for their team’s runaway win, 55-42.

The teams were fairly even, but as the tale of the tape has suggested the last couple of nights, the more accurate team got up with the Swish having one less attempt from the field, but making 22 baskets compared to 16, and recording higher numbers from inside and outside the arc. They also led the rebounds (52-48), assists (13-9), blocks (3-1) and second chance points (12-6), though the Wildcats had one more steal (13-12) and one less turnover (21-22).

In an even team performance, Lokotui sank 14 points and had 13 rebounds in an impressive double-double performance, while Selby-Rickit also impressed off the bench with eight points, 10 rebounds and four steals. Whippy led from the front with 10 points, nine rebounds, three assists and four steals in an all-court performance, while Penese (nine points, five rebounds and three assists) and Watene (six points, seven rebounds and two assists) both impacted the match.

For the Wildcats, Samia hit 11 points, three rebounds and two steals, while Elia was the standout player on the losing side thanks to nine points, 13 rebounds and four steals. Shea Crotty did not hit one of her six field goal attempts, but she did pick up seven rebounds, three assists and five steals, while Richards finished with seven points and seven rebounds. Coming off the bench, Luhetoa had nine points and three rebounds, while Knight helped herself to four points and six rebounds.

Capital Swish back up tonight’s performance against Harbour Breeze tomorrow night, while the Wildcats now will look to turn around their 0-2 start to the season in their next match against Waikato Wizards who also lost their first match, when the teams face off on Wednesday, November 25.

Picture: Shane Wenzlick / Photosport

Dream start to the 18IN18 season for Auckland

AUCKLAND Dream have built on the momentum of their dying seconds winner against Waikato Wizards to secure a more comfortable victory over Canterbury Wildcats only 24 hours later. The New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) 18IN18 tournament has gone exactly to plan thus far for the Dream, who have won their first two games of five in the condensed competition, earning a hard earned rest. Starting strong to lead by 13 points at half-time, they were able to maintain the age and get up by 15 in a thrilling contest.

The Wildcats were the first team on the board in the match, with Terai-Ma-Teata Elia dropping both free throws in the opening minute. That was soon countered by a red-hot Casyn Buchman who hit a triple, grabbed a defensive board off a Rosalia Samia long-range attempt, then made another two-pointer to grab her team the early lead. It set the tone for the Dream’s intensity as game one winner, Arielle Mackey-Williams got on the board, as did the Wildcats’ Brittany Richards for a high-scoring opening few minutes.

Leading by just a point four minutes in, the Dream started to take control and notched up back-to-back layups from Olivia Berry and Amanda Wayment, before a crucial Gemma Etheredge jumper reduced the deficit to four with just under two minutes left. Six seconds later, Jelena Vucinic drilled a triple off a Buchman assist, and despite both teams having chances, the margin was seven at the first break with the Dream ahead, 15-8.

The Dream certainly had the momentum heading into the second term, and Sharne Robati was quick on the trigger to grab four points in the opening 80 seconds, as Shea Crotty, Richards and Samia had multiple chances from long-range but could not get it happening despite consecutive boards. Wayment soon grabbed one and Robarti had scored the first six points for her side in the term, with only a Richards basket in between. For all the attacking nature of the Wildcats, it was Wayment who extended the lead out to 13 after two and a half minutes.

The high-scoring opening few minutes slowed a little as both teams had settled down defensively in the term, but for everything the Wildcats threw at the Dream, the in-form side had the answers. An Ekka basket was matched by Robati, and then a Wayment jump shot and Rionne Papa free-throw extended the lead out to 15. Etheredge quickly replied by Williams-Mackey went to work building towards another big performance with five consecutive points and handing her side an 18-point lead. The Wildcats had all the scoring in the final two minutes of the term thanks to a Katherine Jones triple and two success Etheredge free throws, but they still trailed by 13 points.

The Wildcats needed a spark in the second half and Richards and Elia were quick on the board, but back-to-back triples by Robati and Buchman either side of a Samia layup drove the dagger further in. Every challenge by Canterbury was suitably answered, with Etheredge becoming a problem close to the basket, but the likes of Robati and Vucinic standing up, with Buchman creating on offence. The Wildcats could not seem to get a crucial jump shot, instead Etheredge kept getting to the line and making the most of it.

Unfortunately for Canterbury, they could only get within 13 points, as the pairing of Williams-Mackey and Waynment were back on after a rest in the last couple of minutes and having an immediate impact. Jones put the deficit to within 14 with a minute to play, but a late Williams-Mackey basket extended it out to 16 at the final break.

Wayment was first on the board in the final term to all but end the contest. Emily Knight got her first points of the game for the Wildcats, as her second basket drove her team to within 12 points for the first time in two quarters. When Etheredge made a jump shot with 97 seconds left in the match, the deficit was still a tough ask, and then Mackey-Williams decided that was enough of that, draining back-to-back triples to put the final nail in the coffin. Despite Etheredge’s best work – sinking a triple in response, Wayment’s last basket in the final 30 seconds secured the 66-51 victory.

The Dream were once again the more efficient team on offence, shooting at 42 per cent compared to 26 from the field, and the Wildcats drained just three of 26 triples, compared to the Dream six of 15, showing their determination to look to secure baskets from close range. The rebound count was even, with the Wildcats ahead, as well as making the most of 19 second chance points thanks to their healthy work off the offensive boards. The Dream led the assist count (15-9), as well as the steals (14-13), blocks (2-0) and crucially, had four less turnover s (19-23).

Mackey-Williams backed up her game-winning performance on night one with a match-high 19 points, as well as five rebounds, one assist and two steals. Robarti had 14 points, five rebounds and two assists, while the best player coming off the bench was clearly Wayment, who had 13 points and 13 rebounds – including a massive eight offensive – to go with three assists and two blocks. Buchman played a crucial role with seven rebounds and four assists to go with her eight points.

For the Wildcats, Etheredge was by far the best player, dropping team-highs in points (17) and rebounds (12), particularly damaging off the offensive boards with nine. She also got to the free-throw line for 10 chances, making eight of them, and had three assists and two steals. Elia was the other double-digit scorer with 10 points, six rebounds, two assists and three steals, while Samia (five points, five rebounds and three steals) and Jones (six points, six rebounds) also tried hard across the board.

Now the Wildcats look to bounce back against Capital Swish tonight, while Auckland Dream earn a week’s break before also taking on the Swish next Friday, November 27.

Picture: Photosport