The ETCO Auckland Dream made it two from two in the Sal’s NBL 18IN18 at Bruce Pulman Arena on Friday night.
Having narrowly beaten the Waikato Wizards on the opening night 24-hours earlier, the Dream proved too good for the Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats winning 66-51.
The Dream were well served by Arielle Williams-Mackey (19 points), Sharne Robati (14 points) and the American pair Amanda Wayment (13 points and 13 rebounds) and Casyn Buchman (8 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists).
Debutant Gemma Etheredge was outstanding for the Wildcats amassing 17 points and 12 rebounds – 9 of those at the offensive end. Terai Elia (10 points) and former Otago forward Brittany Richards (8 points) were also prominent.
Both teams were short of starting guards. Darcy Finnegan failed to recover from a knee injury incurred the previous night against Waikato and the Wildcats were dealt two blows during the week. Tessa Morrison was ruled out for the season after suffering an ACL injury at last week's Schick 3X3 Cup and Lauryn Hippolite was also side-lined with a calf strain.
Etheredge, deputising for Hippolite in the starting line-up, was impressive snaring an offensive rebound and a steal on the first two possessions of the game, but it was the Dream that settled the quickest opening a 7-2 lead.
Elia (nee Sadler) and Richards made scores for the Wildcats but threes from Buchman and Jelena Vucinic helped the Dream to a 15-8 quarter time lead.
Robati made the opening three scores of the second quarter and when former Brigham Young University captain Wayment scored with a left-handed hook the Dream were ahead 23-10.
Etheredge scored through traffic and Kat Jones converted from deep but Williams-Mackey, feeding off the confidence of making the game-winning shot the previous evening, maintained the Dream’s double-figure lead, 33-20 at the interval.
The Wildcats made the better start to the second half as Rosalie Samia, Richards and Elia scored but the Dream found answers through Vucinic and Robati to lead 43-29 at the mid-point of the third.
The industrious Etheredge took her tally into double figures, but the Wildcats were left with plenty to do at the three-quarter mark trailing 50-34.
Elia became the second Wildcats player into double figures, Mille Knight made a couple of neat inside buckets and when Richards knocked down a jumper the Cantabrians trailed by just 12 points (58-46) with 2:52 to play.
Etheredge made it a ten-point game, but Williams-Mackey removed any anxiety being felt by Dream fans, the shooting guard making consecutive threes to close out a 66-51 victory.
Dream 66 – Williams-Mackey 19p, Robati 14p, Wayment 13p/13r, Buchman 8p
Wildcats 51 – Etheredge 17p/12r, Elia 10p, Richards 8p, Jones 6p
SkyCity Hotel MVP Votes:
Sharne Robati (Dream-9), Arielle Williams-Mackey (Dream-9), Amanda Wayment (Dream-6), Gemma Etheredge (Wildcats-4), Terai Elia (Wildcats-1), Brittany Richards (Wildcats-1).