NBL 2014/15 Round 17: Hot Hawks blitz woeful United
Wollongong have blitzed Melbourne early en route to a 93-82 home win that puts a serious dent in United’s NBL playoffs aspirations.
The win now places Melbourne a win outside of the finals as they failed to take advantage of a Perth loss for the second week in a row.
While a response was expected from the visitors after their second half capitulation at home to Townsville last week, it was the hometown Hawks who instead came out firing to stun their more fancied opponents.
Wollongong began the match on a 19-3 run, with a Jordan McRae three-pointer the only score Melbourne could muster for the first six minutes of the quarter.
An Owen Odigie three finally broke the drought for Melbourne but they still found themselves staring down the barrel at the first break, trailing by 13 points and looking completely out of sorts.
Oscar Forman was the early star for the Hawks, netting 14 points on a perfect six-for-six shooting from the floor.
Every Melbourne challenge in the second term was met with a response from the Hawks, with Gary Ervin (20 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists) heating up and ensuring his side would head to the change rooms with a more-than-handy 16-point advantage.
The woes continued for United after the break at both ends of the floor, failing to get into the game on offense and letting the Hawks score at will down the other end as the margin blew out to a whopping 27 points at the final change.
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With the match over, the visitors finally loosened up on offense and another McRae three-point bomb cut the deficit to 12 with a little over two minutes on the clock.
However it was far too little, too late as fourth place slipped further through Melbourne’s fingers and the home side held on for a comfortable win in front of their home fans.
To make matters worse for the stumbling Melbourne side, Daniel Kickert was lost to a back injury early and could only manage seven minutes on court, which was compounded by the absence of backup centre Chris Patton, who, as a development player, had reached the maximum of seven away games for the season.
Forman finished with 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting to lead his side, while Ervin and Rhys Martin also added 20 apiece.
McRae still managed to finish with 27 points for the visitors despite the heavy defeat inflicted on his side, with point guard duo Stephen Dennis and Nate Tomlinson chipping in with 14 each.
Wollongong will travel to Cairns to face the Taipans on Sunday afternoon before heading to Melbourne for what looms as a must-win rematch for United next weekend.
Wollongong 93 (Forman 22, Ervin 20, Martin 20)
Melbourne 82 (McRae 27, Dennis 14, Tomlinson 14)
@ WIN Entertainment Centre