In a battle of the 09 postcode, the Auckland Tuatara have pulled out an inspiring 89-68 win over the Franklin Bulls in Auckland, using a 28-9 fourth quarter to break the game open after scores were locked at the half. This win ensures that the Tuatara will be in the top six, while the Bulls continue to fight for a spot in the playoffs in what’s becoming a tight race to the finish.
Rob Loe led all scores with 25 points and 7 rebounds, while Siler Schneider had 21 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists. Dontae Russo-Nance registered 14 points, 7 rebounds & 6 steals, Braydon Iuli chipping in 14 and Nicholas Barrow 10.
Corey Webster scored 17 points to go along with his 8 assists, while Nathaniel Potts dropped in 16 and Leon Henry had 12 points & 13 rebounds in the loss.
The Tuatara came out strong to open the game, building an 11-3 lead midway through the first period. But the Bulls came charging back on the strength of their outside shooting, hitting three consecutive triples as part of a 13-0 run. Led by Henry’s 9 points – all from beyond the arc – the Bulls took a 19-16 lead into the break.
They’d extend the margin in the second period thanks to a personal 5-0 run by Potts to earn a 26-20 lead. But the Tuatara chipped away to eventually reclaim the lead thanks to a steal and layup by Schneider – the point guard taking the charge on Rissetto on the next play.
The lead shifted back and forth in the period, ending in a 39-all tie heading in the second half; the stats showing the Tuatara as the better rebounders (28 to 21) and outside shooters (7 triples at a 36% clip vs three for the Bulls), while Franklin held a 7-2 steals advantage and made 6 free throws versus none for the Tuatara.
Both teams continued to exchange leads in the third quarter; Webster heating up with a pair of threes in the period, while Loe had five. A wild ending to the third saw Russo-Nance threading the pass to Tom Beattie for the and-1, but Webster responded with the sublime pass to Christian Martin for the buzzer-beating score – putting the Tuatara up 61-59 heading into the fourth.
The fourth quarter saw Loe catch fire, the big centre rattling off nine straight points to give the Tuatara a 70-61 advantage. They’d extend that lead to 13 with three minutes left, thanks to Iuli’s three from the corner; the Bulls also hampered with foul trouble, with their import Potts fouling out of the game soon after. With a 28-9 quarter, the Tuatara claimed the 89-68 win and bragging rights for the battle of the 09.
SCORE: Bulls 89, Tuatara 68
Tuatara: Schneider 21 PTS & 8 REB & 9 ASS | Loe 25 PTS & 7 REB | Iuli 14 PTS & 5 REB | Russo-Nance 14 PTS & 7 REB & 6 STL | Barrow 10 PTS & 6 REB
Bulls: Webster 17 PTS & 8 AST | Potts 16 PTS | Henry 12 PTS & 13 REB | Rissetto 10 PTS & 7 REB | Brooke 7 PTS & 9 REB
Full box score HERE.
Stuff MVP Votes
Rob Loe (Tuatara) - 9 votes
Siler Schneider (Tuatara) - 8 votes
Dontae Russo-Nance (Tuatara) - 4 votes
Corey Webster (Bulls) - 3 votes
Leon Henry (Bulls) - 2 votes
Braydon Iuli (Tuatara) - 2 votes
Anzac Rissetto (Bulls) - 1 vote
Giddy Potts (Bulls) - 1 vote
Franklin Bulls – 29 July vs Taranaki Airs
Auckland Tuatara – 6 August vs Wellington Saints