Unstoppable Saints make it 14 in a row
It seems there’s something about New Plymouth that brings the best out of Corey Webster.
After scoring 31 points in just three quarters the last time he was in town, Webster was at his dynamic best again on Sunday as he posted 28 points to lead the Saints to a 91-63 National Basketball League (NBL) win over the Taranaki Mountain Airs.
‘‘I’m just playing basketball and trying to win,’’ the 28-year-old said.
On the back of Webster’s outing, the Saints moved to 14-0 for the season as they continue their roll toward the playoffs.
‘‘It’s just about getting better as a team, holding ourselves accountable and sticking to our standards,’’ Webster said about their final run of games before the playoffs.
‘‘We know that no team in this league should beat us and we’ll be really disappointed if we do lose a game.’’
Webster started the game by posting the Saints’ first eight points of the game before missing a shot, while the Taranaki side came sluggishly out of the gates.
The home side looked out of sorts early as they struggled to penetrate the Saints defence and couldn’t get their jump shots to drop.
The fact that the Wellington side weren’t playing as well as they’re capable of but were still comfortably in front didn’t bode well for Taranaki, who trailed 22-13 after one quarter.
While the Mountain Airs scored more in the second quarter than the first, that was about where the positives stopped for them as Wellington continued to have their way with their hosts on the offensive end.
Saints point guard Shea Ili was explosive on the fast break, using his speed in transition while Webster had the hot hand, sinking seven of his nine first half shot attempts.
While Jaylen Gerrand tried to provide the Airs with a spark off the bench, the team had just a 28 per cent first half success rate and went into the break 49-27 down.
It was almost a reverse of the script in the third quarter as, while the Taranaki side continued to struggle to put the ball in the basket early, the Saints struggled more.
So the Mountain Airs were able to claw at the deficit, outscoring the Saints 21-14 in the third and lifting their field goal percentage to 31.
It didn’t take long for the Saints to push the lead back out to 20 points, however, as Webster heated up again and, despite the Taranaki side getting a hand in his face more often than not, sank shot after shot.
Outscoring the Mountain Airs 17-4 through the opening five minutes of the final quarter, the Saints took the opportunity to give their reserves meaningful minutes.
Tempers flared in the closing minutes as Ili took exception to a challenge by Mountain Airs centre Daniel Gomis and the two exchanged shoves. Nothing came from the altercation, but Mountain Airs coach Trent Adam sat Gomis for the remaining few minutes as the Saints cruised to victory.
Wellington Saints 91 (Corey Webster 28, Shea Ili 14, BJ Anthony 14) Taranaki Mountain Airs 63 (Tylor Ongwae 15).
The Saints’ Joshua Duinker shoots past Daniel Gomis in New Plymouth on Sunday. Corey Webster