NBL 2014/15 Round 18: Townsville snap Breakers out of top spot
The New Zealand Breakers had the chance to solidify top spot on the NBL ladder with a victory over the Townsville Crocodiles. However, that motivation simply wasn't enough to get the Breakers over the line as Townsville have struck late on in the season with a 79-71 win.
It was Townsville's latest craze and star Todd Blanchfield who was outstanding for the home side, torturing the league leaders for 27 points and nine rebounds on a healthy 50% shooting from the floor.
He was aided by the tall timber of Brian Conklin and Mickell Gladness, who both played part albeit in different ways.
Conklin may not have been at his very best, however still completed an very well rounded game as he ended the night with 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Gladness (7 points, 3 blocks) may not have had such an effect on the offensive end, despite making all of his three attempts; it was his interior defence that kept the likes of Ekene Ibekwe and Tai Wesley out of the paint.
Despite New Zealand gaining the upper hand early, which resulted in the visitors leading at the first change (22-18), it was their poor second stanza that had them gasping for air and then continuing to play catch up for the remainder of the evening.
The majority of the Breakers stars managed to get themselves going, however no one really looked like changing the game.
A placid New Zealand didn't provide their extra gear(s) on the night that they can find late on in games, which has been evident throughout the season.
Cedric Jackson (6 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, 5-16FG) and Corey Webster (5-18FG) led the team in scoring with 14 a piece which also took a plethora of field goal attempts to achieve.
Mika Vukona was the only player to record a double double on the night with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Thomas Abercrombie broke a personal record to register five blocks to go along with five points and seven rebounds.
With the game on the line in the final quarter, Townsville's six point lead dwindled away to just two points with eight minutes left on the clock.
The Crocs then went on a 7-0 run which lasted just over three minutes, with five of those Blanchfield's.
A Breakers onslaught was then not efficient enough for the ball to find the bottom of the net, as Townsville collected themselves to extend the margin back out to double digits to put the game to bed with a a little over two minutes to play.
Townsville Crocodiles 79 (Blanchfield 27, Conklin 13, Henry 9)
New Zealand Breakers 71 (Jackson 14, Webster 14, Wesley 13)
@ Townsville RSL