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NBL 2014/15 Round 8: Hawks snap skid with rout of toothless Crocs
Wollongong has broken an eleven-game losing streak and captured their first win since the opening night of the NBL season with a 90-76 win over Townsville on Friday night.
The fired-up Hawks turned around a 30-point loss to the same Crocs team in Townsville last Sunday as the visitors became the hunted in the hostile surroundings of Wollongong.
An emotional personal week for Gary Ervin was put aside as the enigmatic former MVP came off the bench to inspire his side, finishing with 14 points in a performance typical of the American’s toughness and resolve.
Tim Coenraad had earlier set the tone for the home side, rattling off six early points to start the contest on his way to a game-high 24 on 11-of-17 shooting from the field.
The visitors, however, started the better and led 10-6 midway through the term before a dominant stretch by Wollongong, in which they netted 15 straight points in the space of less than three minutes blew the game wide open.
An eventual 27-19 quarter-time lead became 50-36 at the main break as the Hawks continued to pressure the Crocs into turnovers and poor shots, with Townsville’s brigade of dead-eye perimeter shooters kept in check.
Brian Conklin (17 points) worked hard to keep his side in it but lead continued to grow after halftime, reaching 21 with just over 12 minutes remaining in the match on a Coenraad three-point bomb.
Townsville’s little resistance lasted barely two more minutes in the final term as the lead again blew out past 20 points and the home crowd went into party mode.
Wollongong forced the visitors into 18 turnovers and committed just nine themselves, while the Crocs could only manage 3-for-18 shooting from the perimeter while allowing their opponents to go at 50% from the floor and 36% from deep.
Crocs swingmen Clint Steindl (8 points, 4-13 FG) and Todd Blanchfield (9 points, 4-10 FG), as well as big man Mickell Gladness (4 points, 2-8 FG) were very well-held by the home side just days after all three were strong contributors in beating the Hawks in Townsville.
Townsville must now regroup in time for their clash against the Taipans in Cairns on Sunday, while the Hawks will face the toughest test in the league when they travel to Perth next Friday night.
Wollongong 90 (Coenraad 24, Ervin 14, Forman 13)
Townsville 76 (Conklin 17, Blanchfield 9, Henry 9)