NBL 2014/15 Round 17: Breakers look convincing in cruisy win over Wildcats
The New Zealand Breakers have raced away to a comfortable 90-79 victory over the visiting Perth Wildcats. With last weeks 20 point loss to Sydney fresh in their minds, the Breakers were simply too strong for the travelling Wildcats who faltered down the stretch.
New Zealand made the most of their 40 points in the paint, using big men Ekene Ibekwe, Tai Wesley and Mika Vukona to bully the depleted Wildcats. With five players in double figures the balanced Breakers sent a statement to the league and anyone who thought they had fallen off the wagon.
Perth were competitive for three quarters as defensive stalwart Damian Martin had one of the stat lines of the season with 19 points, 8 rebounds and 6 steals. Martin again played stellar defense on Cedric Jackson and went though yet another game without committing a foul.
Perth forward DeAndre Daniels had a game high 20 points but simply did not get enough plays called for him down the stretch as they found themselves playing catch-up.
Five early points by DeAndre Daniels and some sharp shooting from the Wildcats enabled them to jump out to an early lead, hitting their first four shots. With Alex Pledger out with an Injury, sixth-man Ibekwe made the most of his start, scoring 8 and grabbing 4 rebounds in a dominant opening display. In a back and forth quarter, the Breakers continued their fouling ways from last weekend as Tai Wesley and Mika Vukna picked up two quick fouls each, placing Perth in the bonus. The visitors hit 10/13 to keep themselves in the game despite the home team shooting a whopping 70% from the field. The Breakers hot shooting gave them a slight advantage heading into the second period.
Down 32-26 after one, coach Trevor Gleeson gave his Wildcats a dressing down as they could not keep the fast paced Breakers out of the paint. With the kiwis slipping out to a ten point lead, center Tom Jervis brought the visitors back into the contest with 6 quick points and some solid post play. A Jermaine Beal three-pointer tied the game for Perth who were hungry despite their travel fatigue.
Two big three-pointers from Corey Webster, who had 17 points in the first half, punctuated some impressive play from the home side who bulldozed their way to a 54-41 half time advantage. Perth's total inability to defend the paint continued to be their Achilles heel.
Perth came out in the third quarter with a staunch zone defense that trimmed the Breakers lead to eight. Forcing the New Zealanders to take contested mid-range jump shots has been an effective tactic all season and the Wildcats gave playoff teams an insight into how to play the second seed.
With Matthew Knight injured, Perth could not afford Jervis to get into foul trouble, however he picked up his fourth early and gave the Breakers and Tai Wesley an advantage on the low post. Wesley bullied and span his way to six points in the quarter as the home team took a 10 point lead into the deciding quarter.
Back to back three pointers for the Breakers gave them a daunting 14 point lead with eight minutes to play and Wesley continued to prove his worth finishing with 11 points and 7 rebounds. A highlight reel ally-oop from Rhys Carter to Tom Abercombie punctuated the night for the Breakers who seemed to have everything go their way.
Webster who is known for his offense, played exceptional defense on Jermaine Beal who he held to 11 points on 28% shooting. Beal's lack of production proved costly for the Wildcats who rendered Martin's big night worthless.
Perth now fly home to play Sydney on Sunday afternoon and the Breakers will pack their bags and travel though to Townsville to face the Crocodiles in round 18.
Perth Wildcats 79 ( Daniels 20, Martin 19, Jervis 12)
New Zealand Breakers 90 (Webster 17, Abercrombie 16, Ibekwe 12)