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Hawks survive Snakes in Friday thriller

 The Illawarra Hawks survived a dramatic fourth quarter fightback to beat the Cairns Taipans 96-88 in a Friday night thriller at WIN Entertainment Centre.

Spearheaded by centre AJ Ogilvy’s show-stealing 36-point, 11-rebound performance, the Hawks overcame a 48-42 half-time deficit to lead 82-63 on the strength of a devastating 40-point third-quarter blitz.

Illawarra looked to have buried the Taipans, who managed just 15 in that time, but a six-minute scoreless streak sent shockwaves through the Win Entertainment Centre which was buzzing with excitement and anticipation.

One missed field goal became eight as the Taipans went on a 23-6 run to close the margin to 90-88 after two Mark Worthington free throws 46 seconds from time.

But the magic ran out for the visitors as Illawarra re-established Ogilvy in the nick of time, closing the door on Cairns. Guard Kevin Lisch (16 points, six assists) and forward Tim Coenraad (13 points) were also prominent for the Hawks, who made 23/25 free throws as a team and won the all-important rebound battle 36-33. Illawarra boosted their record to 4-4 ahead of next Wednesday’s home game against the Perth Wildcats, while the Taipans (3-5) aim to bounce back when they host unbeaten NBL leaders Melbourne United. [ooyala code="t0MTJveDrYK3IoRriQUP8OG7C2xqypv6" player_id="d5b993422b3e4b5ebd61f9e19ca2a6a5" width="1920" height="1080" auto="true"] “Of course I’m happy with the win but we have to get better,” Hawks coach Rob Beveridge said post-game. “We’re still finding our way, but we’re now understanding the type of game and tempo we want to play. “We were way too tight in the first half. In the second half we played with freedom and we were loose, and it was just beautiful.” Ogilvy humbly played down his power-packed effort. “Of course I’m happy to have a game like that, but it wouldn’t have meant anything if we’d lost,” he said. “My teammates found me in good positions and a lot of the credit goes to them.” The first quarter featured three ties and three lead changes before the teams walked off the court locked at 22-apiece. Cairns confidently worked their way to a nine-point lead in the second period and would have felt good about their chances when they strode to the locker room ahead 48-42 at half-time. But the Hawks had other ideas, out-scoring the visitors 40-15 in the mammoth third term. Illawarra connected on 13/21 field goals in the period, including 6/7 from three-point range. Exciting Cairns imports Markel Starks (20 points) and Torrey Craig (17) sparked a courageous revival but the Hawks did just enough to secure their fourth win. “It’s pretty disappointing,” Taipans coach Aaron Fearne said. “We came out and had a pretty strong first half on their home court. We showed really good fight [in the fourth quarter] and gave ourselves a chance to win, and that’s what you want to do when you’re on the road. “That’s our fifth road game in a row and that’s tough on the group. It’s hard to get road wins in this league and always has been.” ILLAWARRA HAWKS 96 (Ogilvy 36, Penney 17, Lisch 16) CAIRNS TAIPANS 88 (Starks 20, Craig 17, Gliddon 10) BOX SCORE
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