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Breaker big men step up in OT thriller

New Zealand Breakers left it late but scored a gutsy 98-92 overtime win over Melbourne United at Hisense Arena on Friday night. After a roller-coaster last quarter in which either side could have taken the win, Melbourne looked in better shape as they took a late lead in the overtime before Rob Loe and Thomas Abercrombie made sure of the maiden away win in front of 5,743 Melbourne supporters. Kyle Adnam led Melbourne with 19 points while Tai Wesley had 17 points, while Alex Pledger’s 20 points and 10 rebounds led the Breakers with Kirk Penney and Thomas Abercrombie scoring 17 each. Melbourne went into the game without injured stars Chris Goulding (ankle) and Todd Blanchfield (groin), while the Breakers lost import guard Ben Woodside to a plantar fasciitis injury late in the game. Woodside had to be assisted from the court and then the stadium by his teammates. Breakers coach Paul Henare praised his side’s resilience. “We found a way,” Henare said post-game. “I think the guys will be the first to admit we didn’t play the type of basketball as we would have hoped and that’s not taking anything away from Melbourne. “We have got ourselves in a hole on the road a few times this season and have not been able to get out so I’m pretty pleased with the way the guys responded. “We stepped up and made plays, got some stops when it counted. “I told the boys in the locker room that the most important thing was we got the win.” Melbourne coach Dean Demopoulos said no one from his side was smiling after such a tough loss but they would rebound for it. “I don’t like it, I don’t like the outcome but [the Breakers] got what they deserved. They won the basketball game,” Demopoulos said. He added Loe shouldn’t have been left open for his late three-pointers. “We should have switched. It was late clock [situation] and I don’t know why we didn’t,” Demopoulos said. “The first for sure; the second one he should have too but it happens, he hit great shots and that’s the way it goes. “We had opportunities to win the game in regulation and we didn’t get it done. We had a good look at the end of the game but it didn’t get there.” Penney and Corey Webster were both on target early for the Breakers while Akil Mitchell’s powerful one-hand dunk was a highlight as they took a dominant 27-13 lead late in the first term. But Kyle Adnam’s entry gave United a burst of inspiration as he nailed a three-pointer on the quarter-time buzzer to cut the margin to 27-17, and continued to burn in the opening of the second term scoring nine quick points as Melbourne caught up to the Breakers. David Andersen’s jump hook and the foul put Melbourne in front but Mitchell and others would make sure they took a 41-40 lead into half-time. Melbourne United made the third term their own with a late run sending them to a 70-62 three-quarter time lead. With many of their players firing on offence, the lead could have been 10 points but Devin Williams' put-back was ruled to have come after the buzzer so was cancelled out. New Zealand’s experience was telling down the stretch of the final term as they repeatedly made big shots led by Abercrombie outside and Pledger inside. Ramone Moore could have won the game for Melbourne but his shot at the buzzer fell short, forcing overtime. Melbourne looked poised for much of the extra session with Tai Wesley making big shots and Majok Majok scoring inside, but their four-point lead was gobbled up by two big threes from Breakers big man Rob Loe then a breakaway dunk from Abercrombie which secured the win.   NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS 98 (Pledger 20, Abercrombie 17, Penney 17) MELBOURNE UNITED 92 (Adnam 19, Wesley 17, Moore 13) BOX SCORE
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