The Capital Swish consigned the Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats to their second defeat in as many days at the Sal’s NBL 18IN18 with a 55-42 win at Bruce Pulman Arena on Saturday.
The Wildcats trailed by just five points (40-35) at three-quarter time but were outscored 15-7 in the final ten minutes as the Swish defence dominated the closing stages.
A double-double from Paris Lokotui (14 points and 13 rebounds) plus a 10 point, nine rebound and four steal effort from Letava Whippy were standout efforts for the Swish.
Rosalia Samia scored 11 points for the Wildcats whilst the tireless Terai Elia produced 9 points, 13 rebounds and 4 steals.
Maia Jean Watene scored twice in the opening four minutes as Swish established an early 8-3 lead.
Elia scored back to back baskets to tie proceedings before Millie Knight scored inside after some deft footwork.
Whippy snapped a 9-0 Wildcats run before Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickett took Swish to a 15-12 quarter time lead.
Selby-Rickett scored again with her second look at the hoop, but Rosalia Samia replied immediately and when Bella Luhetoa knocked down a long three the scores were tied at 19 points apiece.
Elia gave the Wildcats the lead, but it was quickly extinguished by back to back triples from Grace Simi Vaofusi and Sariah Penese.
More good footwork from Knight delivered a game-tying basket – 25 all at half-time.
A Lokotui block denied the Wildcats the lead, Penese then scored from her miss to give the Wellingtonians the advantage.
A heads up play from Penese gave Lokotui an open lay-up – Luhetoa’s three a welcome response for the Cantabs.
Whippy converted in traffic to become the first player in double figures, the Swish captain taking her team to a 38-32 lead.
Luhetoa dropped her third trey of the game, but Lokotui had the final say of the period – Swish ahead 40-35 at the last break.
The Penese to Lokotui combination opened the scoring in the fourth quarter for the Swish, Samia’s three the opening gambit for the Wildcats.
Southpaw Vaofusi made an athletic jump shot and when 15-year old rookie Lilly Taulelei scored inside Swish were 49-38 ahead, and Wildcats coach Mel Downer needed a timeout.
Brittany Richards scored on the resumption, but the forward duo of Lokotui and Selby-Rickett put the seal on a convincing Swish victory.
The Wildcats have a few days to lick their wounds before the South Island derby against Otago Gold Rush on Wednesday whilst the Swish will be back in action on Sunday to take on Harbour Breeze.
Swish 55 – Lokotui 14/13r, Whippy 10/9r, Penese 9, Selby-Rickett 8/10r
Wildcats 42 – Samia 11, Luhetoa 9, Elia 9/13r, Richards 7
SkyCity Hotel MVP Votes:
Paris Lokotui (Swish-9), Letava Whippy (Swish-5), Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickett (Swish-4), Sariah Penese (Swish-3), Grace Vaofusi (Swish-3), Terai Elia (Wildcats-2), Bella Luhetoa (Wildcats-2), Kat Jones (Wildcats-1), Shea Crotty (Wildcats-1).