The Taylor Hawke's Bay Hawks have picked up their first win of the season with a 93-77 victory over the Taranaki Steelformers Airs in New Plymouth on Thursday evening.
The Hawks came out the gates hot in the first quarter, starting the game on an 11-2 run and causing all kinds of problems for the Airs with their stout defence. Hawke's Bay's hot shooting carried over into the second quarter, too, with a 13-2 run fueled by Ethan Rusbatch and Derone Raukawa. Rusbatch would go on to finish with a team-high 22 points on 6-of-12 shooting from three, while Raukawa managed 17 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field and 3-of-5 from distance.
The Airs would show better effort in the third quarter outscoring the Hawks 21-14. Powered by Tai Wynyard's work in the paint, the Airs were able to make some inroads after half time. Wynyard finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds on 10-of-13 shooting in 33 minutes of work. Carlin Davison struggled with his shot, finishing just 5-of-18 from the floor, but he found ways to stay productive during his time on the court with 12 points, 1o rebounds, three steals and three blocks in 36 minutes.
The addition of Hyrum Harris was noticeable on both ends of the floor for the Hawks. He finished with 14 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists in his first hit out of 2022, showcasing his ability to impact the game in a variety of ways. He'll be a key cog for them moving forward.
The Hawks looked like a completely different team from the one we saw in Round 1, moving the ball crisply and making their open looks. The defence remained true to form for the second straight week, limiting the opportunities the Airs were able to get inside and keeping them on the perimeter for most of the night.
There were certainly positives to take away from tonight's loss for the Airs. Wynyard is a force downlow and will be all season long, and Carlin Davison continues to tease us on a weekly basis with the amount of potential he has. Guard Richie Rodger had himself another quiet night for Taranaki, finishing with 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting, but he'll look to right the ship next time out against the Canterbury Rams.
SCORE: Airs 77, Hawks 93
Airs: Wynyard 23 PTS & 11 REBS | Davison 12 PTS, 10 REB, 3 STL, 3 BLK | Walker 14 PTS
Hawks: Rusbatch 22 PTS, 8 REB, 6-12 3PM | Harris 14 PTS, 14 REB, 7 AST | Raukawa 17 PTS | Hunt 16 PTS
Full box score HERE.
Stuff MVP Votes
Ethan Rusbatch (Hawks) - 8 votes
Hyrum Harris (Hawks) - 8 votes
Tai Wynyard (Airs) - 8 votes
Derone Raukawa (Hawks) - 3 votes
Richie Rodger (Airs) - 2 votes
Carlin Davison (Airs) - 1 vote
Airs - May 15 vs. Canterbury Rams
Hawks - May 12 @ Southland Sharks
Round 2 Sal's NBL Schedule