NBL 2014/15 Round 2: Taipans take tight one in the 'Gong
The Cairns Taipans have continued their strong start to the 2014/15 NBL season with a hard-fought win over hometown favorites Wollongong, 91-89. The Taipans slick teamwork and controlled offense, resulted in a season low two turnovers and provided just enough of a cushion to withhold Hawks stars Jahii Carson and Gary Ervin.
Taipans sixth-man Cameron Tragardh described the team as "a great camp to be a part of" and you can see why as the Taipans played great team basketball; six players in double figures, two turnovers and a bench that out scored the Hawks' 32-9.
Jahii Carson continued his damaging form, scoring a game high 24 points on an efficient 8/13 scoring as the Hawks took control of the game early with some deft shooting. Carson and fellow newcomer Gary Ervin pounded the 3 point line putting the Hawks up 25-23 after the first quarter.
Cairns put on a solid 2-1-2 zone defense in the second stanza that stifled the Hawks, forcing them into contested outside jumpers. The Taipains' balanced attack hurt the Hawks both inside and outside the arc, an omen for things to come. Going into the half, Mathew Burston led the Taipans with 8 points as they took a slender two point lead 45-43.
The third quarter proved decisive for the Taipans as they stretched out their advantage through Alex Loughton, who was too quick for the returning Larry Davidson on the inside and too smooth from long-range when dared to shoot. Loughton's dominance was key in opening up an 9 point lead heading into the fourth.
Up 68-59, Cairns must have been having flashbacks to round one, where Jahii Carson and Gary Ervin pulled a Houdini against the crocs. Carson was proving hard to stop again, penetrating the Taipans defense with ease, scoring on driving layups to close the margin. Oscar Forman and Stephen Weigh exchanged 3-pointers as the game entered crunch time.
With the Hawks down 91-88 and under a minute on the clock, Davidson hit one of two free throws to close the gap. Mathew Burston missed two free throws on the other end, making it a two point ball game with 17 seconds to go. The Hawks had been turnover free the entire quarter, but with the ball in Ervin's hands and a chance to tie; he was called for a travel. Game Over.
A clutch finish to a fighting game, the Taipans, despite being out-rebounded by 12, have proven to be the top side in the NBL after two rounds. A side that does not rely on one player, but one that is firing on all cylinders and is ready to rumble.
Wollongong Hawks 89 (Carson 24, Forman 23, Ervin 21)
Cairns Taipans 91 (Weigh 14, Tragardh 13, Wilbekin 12)
@ WIN Entertainment Centre