A fourth-quarter stumble was not enough to tarnish Nelson's unbeaten home record in the National Basketball League as the Giants posted an 89-75 win over Waikato tonight.
Seemingly home and dry at 71-51 late in the third period, Nelson gave up a 15-1 run that saw the unheralded - and winless - Waikato team back within six.
It took four-and-a-half minutes to break the seal on the basket but, once they did - with a pair of Josh Pace free-throws - they were able to push the margin back out comfortably into double figures.
Nelson coach Liam Flynn said his team "tightened up'' at the start of the fourth quarter and then made uncharacteristic errors as Waikato chipped into the lead.
"We just needed to steady ourselves and iron out the errors,'' Flynn said.
Waikato never really looked like getting a surprise road win, but continue to build as a competitive unit. Guard Tai Webster was the game's leading scorer with 24 points while replacement import Garrius Holloman is a handy pickup.
Nelson did limit the impact of Waikato centre Zack Atkinson, though. After putting up 22 points, 22 rebounds and six blocked shots when the team's met in round two, Atkinson was restricted this time to 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Nelson's best were Pace, who got his team back on track in the fourth quarter with vital plays at both ends of the court, and guard Brook Ruscoe.
The Giants led after the first quarter, 23-15, and stretched that out to 47-32 by halftime. Waikato actually outscored Nelson, 43-42 after the major break, but the damage had already been done.
Nelson Giants 89 (Erron Maxey 22, Josh Pace 19, Brook Ruscoe 16) Waikato Pistons 75 (Tai Webster 23, Garrius Holloman 20, Zack Atkinson 14, Marco Alexander 12). 1Q: 23-15, HT: 47-32, 3Q: 72-55
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