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Crocodiles snap second win over 'Cats

Townsville Crocodiles coach Shawn Dennis may have just resurrected his side's season in the most mind-blowing fashion, with a 89-77 victory to seal their second win over the Perth Wildcats in as many weeks. Dennis last week called for a change of the starting line-up after a spanking at the hands of Illawarra and he dropped a bombshell on Wednesday, benching reigning NBL MVP Brian Conklin in favour of the youthful duo of Nick Kay and Mitch Young. Conklin responded with one of his better performances of the year – drawing 12 foul shots on his way to 14 points – while Kay (14 points, eight rebounds) and Young (seven points, five boards) toiled hard in an efficient night (9-13 FG) for the pair. Jesse Wagstaff was the visitors' only consistent threat, with 17 points, as Casey Prather netted 13. Despite 14 field goal attempts, Matthew Knight (12 points, five boards) was seemingly underutilised, and import Jermaine Beal (four points, two assists, four turnovers) had one of his most forgettable performances, going 2-9 from the field and taking until 16 seconds remaining in the game to register his first points. [ooyala code="k5MjdteDrJ6ueTpXEX5yrxyJRwypMO86" player_id="d5b993422b3e4b5ebd61f9e19ca2a6a5" width="1920" height="1080" auto="true"] It was déjà vu for Townsville fans early as they witnessed their side trail by double digits in the first quarter in now the eighth of nine times this season. Nevertheless, Dennis was impressed with what he saw from his charges early on. "We actually started the game well and we set the tempo and the tone for how we wanted to play from the start," he said. "We may have ended up 10 down but it was a totally different start by the group and I don't think that 10-point lead was indicative of the start." While Kay and Young were battling down low it was the perimeter brigade getting the home side back into the contest in the second quarter, as Mitch Norton and Clint Steindl tag-teamed from inside and out, with 12 quick points between them to get the game back to a four-point differential. While the Crocs were balling with ballistic energy, the feeling was that Perth would eventually kick into gear. Taking a 64-59 lead into the final period, signs looked ominous for Townsville in the opening minutes as a Shawn Redhage bucket was followed by a Wagstaff and-one to bring the margin back to a single point. But 60 seconds later the Crocs were truly believing as Norton, Kay and Steindl cashed in among back-to-back Redhage turnovers to draw the margin out to 78-70 with 7:45 on the clock. With both teams managing just a single bucket for the next three minutes the game was ready to bust open, and it was the home side going on a 9-0 run in a minute-and-a-half to send Perth away pondering their 0-2 head-to head with a team they expect not to lose to. "It's pretty disappointing. We're pretty inconsistent at the moment," Gleeson said. "We play a hard game (against Illawarra), and then we just go through the motions. (Townsville) played harder than us tonight and well-and-truly deserved the victory." In a tragic ending to the game, Perth Wildcats captain Damian Martin had to go to hospital with a suspected fractured jaw after being struck with a loose elbow with one minute remaining. Both sides will meet again on Friday at the Perth Arena. Wildcats centre Nathan Jawai will be assessed when the team arrives back. Townsville Crocodiles 89 (Jett 24, Steindl 15, Conklin 14, Kay 14) Perth Wildcats 77 (Wagstaff 17, Prather 13, Knight 12) BOX SCORE
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