NBL 2014/15 Round 9: ‘Cats break Hawks, cruise to victory

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Perth have fought off a gritty and determined Wollongong side to post an impressive 79-55 win at home and retain top spot on the NBL ladder.

The Hawks refused to go quietly but were eventually steamrolled by the much stronger home team as the result began to resemble the’ top versus bottom’ reality.

Wollongong started the better and an the sniff of an enormous upset was in the air, with the visitors taking a 16-10 lead midway through the first term before the margin was cut to just two points at the first break.

The Wildcats turned up their trademark defensive intensity in the second term as the Hawks began to falter, holding the visitors to just 11 points for the entire term and taking a 42-35 lead into the main break.

DeAndre Daniels headed to the locker rooms with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting to be the pick of the Perth players, while Wollongong’s Oscar Forman kept his side in it from the perimeter.

The third term started slowly as the home side threatened to blow the Hawks away, with a number of fumbles and poor passes the only thing keeping the likes of Daniels and Jermaine Beal from completing some highlight reel plays.

The Hawks were also struggling, however, with Gary Ervin (10 points, 5 assists, 3-14 FG) throwing up two air-balls from deep, much to the delight of the Perth fans, before teammate Tim Coenraad did likewise soon after.

As the Wildcats began to assert themselves on the contest, a tough Ervin pull-up from deep cut the margin to a manageable 11 points at the final change and gave his side the slightest of sniffs despite scoring just 22 points in the last 20 minutes of game time.

That sniff soon disappeared, however, as Perth put the foot down once more and blew the margin out, scoring the last 11 points of the match and running out 24-point victors.

The Hawks shot just 32% from the floor and 26% from the perimeter and were sorely outgunned after quarter-time, scoring just 30 points in the final three-quarters.

Forman was the visitors best with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting, while Rhys Martin also chimed in with 12 points despite going 1-of-8 from beyond the three-point line.

Daniels was the star for Perth with 20 points and 8 boards, including 3-of-4 from deep, while Jesse Wagstaff (16 points, 6-8 FG, 4-5 3PT) chimed in late with some hot shooting to keep the Hawks at bay.

Both sides will get a week off before hitting the court next, with Perth travelling to New Zealand in a top-of-the-table clash next Thursday while Wollongong will host Sydney next Saturday.

Perth 79 (Daniels 20, Wagstaff 16, Beal 12)

Wollongong 55 (Forman 16, Martin 12, Ervin 10)

@ Perth Arena