NBL 2014/15 Round 12: McRae injured as Perth edge United in overtime

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For the third straight match, Melbourne United took the contest into overtime but were unsuccessful on this occasion, as the Perth Wildcats overcame a deplorable 23 turnovers to escape with an 81-80 victory.

Jordan McRae played just 11 minutes and has a possible groin injury while David Barlow and Stephen Dennis also spent time off the court at different stages throughout the game.

Despite those injuries, Melbourne remained in the contest thanks to turnovers and missed free throws from the Wildcats, who shot 15-26 from the charity stripe.

Without McRae, Daryl Corletto took over scoring duties for Melbourne with 10 points in the fourth quarter. Having trailed for the entire second half, this streaky shooting from Corletto gave the home side their first lead with just 4:37 remaining.

The Wildcats responded with a 7-0 run and after Dennis missed a corner three, the match looked over. However, a five seconds inbound call on Perth gave the ball back to Melbourne and Dennis atoned with a lay-up.

They then sent Jermaine Beal to the free throw line where he missed his second attempt. Opting to forgo a time-out, United pushed the ball in the open floor, finding Daniel Kickert for the easiest of game-tying lay-ups on the buzzer.

After Melbourne jumped out to a 3 point lead with 1:43 remaining in overtime, Shawn Redhage (12 points) came up with a huge four point play to take back the lead for the Wildcats.

Beal was then sent to the free throw line but again made just one of two and on the ensuing play, Kickert nailed a three to make it a 1 point game.

This set up a chance for a game-winner on United’s final offensive possession but solid defence from Matt Knight forced Dennis to take a mid-range jumper that never looked likely. It was an ugly, gritty victory for Perth but that is how they like them.

Post-match, Dennis stated he got the shot he was after.

I just didn’t get my usual elevation. I knew I was going to get a mid-range shot, I knew the big was going to back off. I took it and just missed it.

On Redhage’s four point play, Coach Trevor Gleeson was highly complimentary.

Shawn has been through so many close games like that, he’s a seasoned vet and he delivers on the line. For a coach it’s pretty easy to give it to the guy who’s got the hot hand.

As he does regularly, Knight had an influential start to the match, nailing Perth’s first 11 points of the game. He shot 3-4 from the field and got to the free throw line at will, treating any defender Melbourne threw at him with disdain. Kickert, Auryn MacMillan and Chris Patton all failed in their bid to restrict the 208cm centre who finished with 18 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks.

With injuries keeping Melbourne’s starters sidelined, the bench helped the scoreboard tick over, tallying 14 first quarter points while United shot 59% from the field. That number trailed off as Perth moved into a zone defence though, holding the home side to 5-14 shooting in the second term and grabbing a 2 point half-time lead.

Gleeson was impressed with his side’s ability to alter their defensive structures.

We had eight or nine stops in a row in that second quarter. We wanted them taking contested shots, we felt if we fell into that hand of over-rotating they would hurt us but I was pleased with how we [defended].

McRae returned momentarily out of the main break but it was DeAndre Daniels who caught everyone’s attention. Having shot 0-10 last time these sides met and being scoreless at half-time, Daniels must have been given a stern talking to by Coach Trevor Gleeson as he came out with a strong intent.

He increased the Wildcats’ lead with their first 11 points of the quarter, finishing with a double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds.

That potential match-winning lead was soon squandered by Perth, as they turned the ball over on four consecutive possessions thanks to sloppy passes and offensive fouls. With the lead cut to 6 by three-quarter time, the door was left ajar for United, a problem that Perth had throughout the match.

After the game, United Coach Darryl McDonald lamented the loss of McRae.

Once we got over the [full court press], we got stagnant. Nobody was attacking, we were just swinging it around and shooting three’s.

The Wildcats have won just two of their last four games and this victory will not be a confidence booster despite staying within two wins of ladder leaders New Zealand. Joining Knight, Redhage and Daniels in double figures, Beal had 15 points while a sick Damian Martin collected 5 points, 10 boards, 3 assists and 4 steals.

Although the performances of Corletto (15 points) and Nate Tomlinson (11) were encouraging, Melbourne will be sweating on the health of McRae.

Dennis scored a game high 20 and Kickert had a double-double of 10 and 13 boards but United were not immune from the turnover troubles. The only upside to their 19 errors was that they out-scored Perth 18-6 off those mistakes.

A quick turnaround for the Wildcats sees them visit Wollongong on New Years Eve in three days while Melbourne will have five days to recover before visiting Sydney next Friday night.

Melbourne United 80 (Dennis 20, Corletto 15, Tomlinson 11)

Perth Wildcats 81 (Knight 18, Daniels 18, Beal 15)

@ Hisense Arena