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R4 Report: Hawks dispose of Crocodiles

The potent Illawarra Hawks got the job done again, disposing of the Townsville Crocodiles 96-88 at the Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre on Wednesday evening. Without Townsville's starting centre Luke Schenscher providing resistance, AJ Ogilvy was simply a man among boys in the paint finishing with 28 points and 13 rebounds despite battling foul trouble. Reigning NBL MVP Brian Conklin and maturing sharpshooter Clint Steindl were Townsville's best with 19 points apiece. Illawarra shocked Townsville out of the blocks, opening up a 16-1 lead before the home side could blink. When the Hawks weren't zipping the ball from side to side they were feasting from the Lisch-Ogilvy pick-and-roll. Lisch and Ogilvy were tuned in to the same frequency early on as they burned Townsville time after time with the two-man game, forcing Townsville to yet again concede a double-digit margin in first quarters – the sixth time in seven games this season. "We put a clinic on. I thought that was the best execution I've seen in a long time," Illawarra coach Rob Beveridge said post-game. "Just the way we moved the ball, decision making, inside-outside... it was clinical." With eight first-quarter points Steindl was the only source of respectability in what coach Shawn Dennis lamented as a first quarter to forget. "Every game we are pretty much having to play catch-up," he said post-game. "We've got to look at our starting line-up and find a way to get better starts." A quick third foul forced Ogilvy to sit the majority of the second quarter and that's when the Crocs started to find their groove. With a lesser Hawks paint presence, Conklin went to work with nine points in Townsville's 27-point second quarter. The home side rode the hand of Nick Kay and Corey Maynard who sparked an 11-0 run, pegging it back to a 71-67 ball game with just over a minute remaining in the term. But just as Townsville were gaining ascendency Beveridge put faith in his bigman to not foul in the final minute of the quarter, and was rewarded. "I think he's the best bigman in the league," Beveridge said with conviction. "His strength, his touch and his passing ability – he's unselfish – and we haven't done a real good job as a team of making him a focal point. "We still have a long way to go; I'm not happy with the amount of times he's actually getting touches. "We want to be able to shoot from the perimeter, there's no question about that – we'll take that—but the focal point should be actually getting the ball inside to AJ." It proved a masterstroke as the behemoth centre netted a quick four points to drag the three-quarter-time lead out to eight. An early-quarter scoring burst had the Crocs faithful in a spin after Maynard brought in within two points with a transition triple, but former league MVP Kirk Penney answered immediately with a cool triple. While the Crocs kept plugging away, the firepower of MVP duo Penney (12 fourth-quarter points) and Lisch (seven) brought the Hawks home. Illawarra Hawks 96 (Ogilvy 28, Lisch 25, Penney 24) Townsville Crocodiles 88 (Conklin 19, Steindl 19, Maynard 13, Norton 13) BOX SCORE
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