NBL 2014/15 Round 16: Disappointing Melbourne stood up by Crocs
A sloppy second half from Melbourne United has hurt possibly their biggest chance of the season to solidify their playoff spot after their 81-69 defeat at the hands of the Townsville Crocodiles on Sunday night.
Despite leading by as much as ten points during the second quarter, Melbourne once again came to an abrupt halt in the final half to register just 29 points.
It was night that was made for Todd Blanchfield who posted a career high 27 points to go along with 13 rebounds and two steals.
Coach Shawn Dennis couldn't have had nicer words for the young Australian guard after the performance:
"The kid's a sensation"
"He's 6ft7 playing the two guard, tell me what other Australian 6ft7 with that athleticism in the two guard spot"
"He's a (Australian) Boomer"
He was joined by Townsville stalwart Brian Conklin who continuously chipped away with 24 points and eight rebounds, while in-form centre Mickell Gladness reaped the rewards of a perimeter minded team with 12 points, nine rebounds and three blocks.
Melbourne couldn't find anyone to step up during the contest, as Jordan McRae led the team with 14 points despite shooting a putrid 4-15 from the field.
While the remainder of their starters tried to peg the deficit back throughout the final quarter, their field goal percentage paid the price, with errant shots and rushed possessions sewing up a disappointing evening.
Captain Mark Worthington's (12 points, 6 rebounds) unusual fumble out of bounds off a McRae pass in the fourth quarter summed up the evening as execution on the offensive end a major concern.
Darryl McDonald was despondent when talking about his team's performance:
"We struggle to put teams away"
"We struggled defensively....it's a tough one, it is such a tough one"
Melbourne started off the aggressors, however ended up on the wrong side of the foul count as both David Barlow (13 points) and Daniel Kickert (12 points) were made to sit early.
A pair of Gladness alley-oops, one in the first and one in the second had the visitors bench in high spirits.
However, a Worthington spin move that had Conklin going the wrong way following an And-1 gave Melbourne a 35-29 lead.
Back to back Blanchfield triples at the end of the half put the game back in the balance as United went into the main break up three.
The third quarter was all Townsville as another Gladness alley was a sideshow to Conklin's power moves inside.
Jordan McRae missed an open fastbreak dunk which could have extended the lead and given the crowd an extra helping.
A 9-0 start to the fourth broke the game open for the Crocodiles as their 48-31 rebound count started to play a part.
Execution down the stretch didn't go the home side's way as Townsville went on to take their second victory in Melbourne this season.
Melbourne United 69 (McRae 14, Barlow 13, Kickert 12)
Townsville Crocodiles 81 (Blanchfield 27, Conklin 24, Gladness 12)
@ State Netball and Hockey Centre, Melbourne