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Home NBL wins for Hawks, 36ers

By Chris Pike
4 January 2014 11:35PM EST

WOLLONGONG pulled out a terrific overtime win over the NBL-leading Perth on Saturday night while New Zealand's title defence reached a new low with a thrashing at the hands of Adelaide.

The Hawks hosted their second successive overtime clash at the WIN Entertainment Centre and on this occasion prevailed 96-91 over the Wildcats while the second-placed 36ers hammered the three-time defending champion Breakers 99-73.

Wollongong was coming off a double overtime loss to the Melbourne Tigers on New Year's Eve and managed to prevail in the extra period on Saturday largely thanks to efforts of import guard Rotnei Clarke against the Wildcats.

The win improves the Hawks to a 5-9 record on the season to be knocking door on the 6-8 Cairns Taipans in fourth position.

While it was just Perth's third loss of the season, it was the second in-a-row after the Wildcats also lost in Cairns to the Taipans on New Year's. The Wildcats now sit on a 12-3 record to be just one game ahead of the on-fire 36ers.

Wollongong was in control of the contest most of the night against Perth taking the lead two and-a-half minutes into the first quarter and holding it right up until there was only 33 seconds left in regulation.

Wildcats import Jermaine Beal's shooting had been cold all night but he caught fire when it mattered down the stretch to put Perth in front 82-81 with 33 seconds to go.

However, Wollongong then pulled off a brilliant alley-oop play when Clarke's pass was spot on to fellow import Kevin Tiggs as the Hawks regained the lead with 24 seconds left.

With James Ennis missing a shot for the Wildcats, Rhys Martin hit two free-throws for Wollongong to stretch the lead to 85-82 but Ennis then hit an incredible off-balance three to tie the scores.

There were four seconds left and Wollongong couldn’t make a play in response sending the game into extra time.

Wollongong gained the early advantage through Tiggs and then free-throws to Larry Davidson to lead by four points before Tiggs scored another two to stretch the lead to six.

Shawn Redhage hit a two to bring it back to four, but Ennis then fouled out for the Wildcats and the Hawks were never really threatened from there running out five-point winners.

Clarke was the star of the night for Wollongong finishing with 28 points and seven assists while shooting 11-of-20 from the field, and 6-of-10 from three-point range.

Fellow import Tiggs added 14 points and five steals for the Hawks with Tim Coenraad adding 13 points, Oscar Forman 12 points and eight rebounds, and Davidson 10 points and eight boards.

Ennis top-scored for the Wildcats with 25 points to go with eight rebounds while Jesse Wagstaff added 20 points and five boards, Beal 16 points and Redhage 11 to go with nine rebounds and five assists.

Captain Damian Martin had another strong all-round game with five points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

Meanwhile, Adelaide continued its hot form handing New Zealand its worst loss of a dismal season to date to the tune of 26 points at the Adelaide Arena.

The win is Adelaide's third straight as the Sixers improve to an 11-4 record on the season to be just a game now behind the top-placed Wildcats while the Breakers slip to 5-10 with the disappointing loss.

The 36ers controlled the contest from the outset and the resultant 26-point victory was their biggest home win since thumping the now defunct Sydney Spirit by 32 points in November 2008.

Adelaide was again without star import point guard Gary Ervin as they were on New Year's Eve against Townsville, but like it didn’t matter against the Crocs it made little difference against the Breakers as Jason Cadee stepped up with the help of captain Adam Gibson.

Sixers' big man Daniel Johnson continued his terrific form with 26 points while Mitch Creek added 20 points.

Centre Luke Schenscher also took advantage of the absence of Alex Pledger for the Breakers finishing with 11 points.

Tom Abercrombie did all he could to try and keep New Zealand in the contest with 24 points and three blocked shots with Gary Wilkinson added 13 points and Corey Webster 11 to go with his five assists.

Round 12 of the NBL will conclude on Sunday afternoon when the third-placed Melbourne Tigers host the fourth-placed Cairns Taipans at The Cage.

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