NBL 2014/15 Round 13: Wildcats secure tough victory in Martin’s 200th

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In a game that played host to a number of milestones, the Perth Wildcats were able to salute all of their achievements in style with an 86-77 victory over the bottom placed Wollongong Hawks on Wednesday night.

The list of milestones read as such: Damian Martin’s 200th game, Shawn Redhage tying Mike Ellis’ 302 Wildcats games, along with Tom Jervis and Jermaine Beal playing their 50th games.

“I feel old, that’s how I feel” – Damian Martin after notching up his 200th NBL game.

Martin, who has been an absolute star across his illustrious career, played yet another brilliant game. This time, it was his offence that was on display, scoring 17 points which included three triples while dishing four assists.

It was once again hot shooting Jermaine Beal who led all scorers with 22 points, as fellow import DeAndre Daniels registered 11 points and five rebounds while struggling once again on the road.

For the home side, Gary Ervin (16 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists) continued his recent form with another solid outing, while Jahii Carson (17 points, 4 rebounds) started to find his groove in his new role off the bench.

The home side certainly did not look to play like a team who is bringing up the rear of the competition, causing plenty of trouble for the Wildcats. Most notably, the extended pressure of the guards when on defence and the aggressiveness the Hawks showed on offence taking the ball to the rim at will throughout the opening half.

The two teams were neck and neck for the majority of the first three quarters, with both teams shooting the ball quite well. Wollongong were ferocious in attacking the key which was highlighted by multiple pick and roll sets by Jahii Carson and Larry Davidson (7 points, 4 rebounds) which worked quite well splitting apart the ‘Cats defence.

Both team’s hustle was exemplified by a loose ball at half court with three and a half minutes to play in the second quarter. Matt Knight and Oscar Forman both pounced on an opportunity to win possession for their team, resulting in a held ball situation.

Ervin then provided the defensive play of the opening half with just 20 seconds left; an open court steal stripping Drake U’U. The energy was then quickly rubbed out as Beal connected on a triple to take his tally up to 14 which cut the Hawks lead to just one at the main break.

While the score remained tight, the teams shooting couldn’t have been further apart. Wollongong was getting it done at the foul line, taking advantage of their home court with 17 free throw attempts to just six. Perth on the other had been keeping in the contest thanks to the three ball, outscoring the Hawks by 18 points from distance (WOL 1-6; PER 7-15).

Despite minimal impact from the Wildcats bench in the opening half, they arguably were the difference for the remainder of the game. Showing just two bench points by half time, Tom Jervis and an ill-fated Shawn Redhage (who came off the bench due to illness) led the second unit and were crucial in the team’s 12-0 run to end the third quarter and ultimately set up the game in the visitors favour.

Jervis notched a double double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, while both he and Redhage controlled the paint restricting any sort of flow the Hawks had from the first half.

Both sides now have the rest of the week off as they prepare for next week’s encounters against New Zealand (twice for Wollongong) and Cairns (Perth).

Wollongong Hawks 77 (Carson 17, Ervin 16, Forman 13)

Perth Wildcats 86 (Beal 22, Martin 17, Daniels 11)

@ WIN Entertainment Centre