Hungry Jack's NBL
Jessup, Harvey shoot Hawks to stunning fightback
You put together two brilliant shooters in your backcourt to deliver moments like Friday night and it was Tyler Harvey and Justinian Jessup who shot the Illawarra Hawks to the stunning 82-80 comeback win over the South East Melbourne Phoenix.
Coming into the game on a three-game losing streak and having lost five of six, the Hawks were feeling the heat back on their WIN Entertainment Centre floor on Friday just two days after a tough loss in the same building to the shorthanded Brisbane Bullets.
And for a lot of the night against a hot Phoenix team who themselves had won six of the last seven, Illawarra didn’t really look to have any rights winning the game.
The Phoenix were well on top most of the way despite losing Ryan Broekhoff to what appeared a hamstring injury. They led by 17 points on the back of a 16-0 run either side of half-time.
South East Melbourne was still up 13 with 7:45 to go in the game and by four with 3:20 to go after yet another Kyle Adnam three, but the Hawks just wouldn’t be denied. It was all on the confidence to shoot from their backcourt stars Tyler Harvey and Justinian Jessup.
Harvey knocked down three triples for 10 fourth quarter points while Jessup added two three-point bombs and a three-point play for 11 points in the term. That suddenly saw the Hawks lead 82-75 with under a minute to go.
But the game wasn’t done. Adnam hit another three for the Phoenix and then both Justin Simon and Sam Froling missed a pair of free-throws so the visitors had a chance with 10 seconds left and down just two.
The league's most experienced player Adam Gibson got a good look but it wouldn’t fall and the Hawks breathed a huge sigh of relief to hold on and win by two.
Jessup finished with 26 points and six rebounds for Illawarra while hitting 5/8 from deep with Harvey delivering 22 points, six boards and four assists with 4/8 from beyond the arc.
Sam Froling had 10 points, five rebounds and three blocks, Deng Deng nine points and seven boards, and Justin Simon eight points and six rebounds.
Hawks coach Brian Goorjian couldn’t have been prouder of the fighting performance to get that win.
"It was really special circumstances with the place we're in right now and I just thought with the losing and a lot of things not going right and to fall 17 points down in a game like that against a team like that," Goorjian said.
"You go back to the Brisbane game and the focus point was that we were ahead, they took a two-point lead and we just absolutely panicked.
"But tonight we stayed possession for possession, we dug deep, we didn’t quit and now people like Sam Froling, AJ Ogilvy is having a career year and tonight it was really special for a guy like Lachy Dent to make an impact when the team is in need.
"We don't win without his minutes. We are starting to get some great minutes from Deng Deng and I'm obviously proud of the win, but especially of where the team went to win this game."
Despite the return of Keifer Sykes, Kyle Adnam still had 22 points for South East Melbourne while hitting 5/6 from downtown. Sykes returned strongly too for 14 points in 21 and-a-half minutes.
Mitch Creek added 15 points and six rebounds, Yanni Wetzell nine points and seven boards while Cam Gliddon, Ben Moore and Broekhoff scored six points each.
Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell was disappointed to have not capitalised on being in such a strong position to claim another win.
"That was disappointing for sure. It would have been tough for Brian and the Hawks to swallow had we nailed that last one," Mitchell said.
"It was a very disappointing second half I thought. We got up by 17 there in the third and just failed to seize the moment. There was lots of opportunities even earlier than that and some of that was their pressure, but it was also just being a little bit off tonight too."
Making his first start, Ryan Broekhoff opened up on fire for South East Melbourne with a couple of early threes. Five quick Mitch Creek points then put them up 18-7 and still 18-10 by quarter-time.
The Hawks had worked their way back into it with a couple of minutes left in the first half, but the Phoenix would have none of it scoring the last 10 points which included two threes from Keifer Sykes as they went into the break up 41-30.
Kyle Adnam then hit two threes to open the second half and complete South East Melbourne's 16-0 run for a game-high 17-point lead.
The Phoenix were still six up by three quarter-time and then pushed that back out to 13 two minutes into the fourth. But the Hawks ramped up their defence and with Harvey and Jessup shooting daggers, Illawarra closed the game with a 27 points to 12 run to claim the much-needed victory.
The Hawks remain at home to host the Cairns Taipans on Sunday while the Phoenix head to Sydney to take on the Kings on the same day.
HUNGRY JACK'S NBL ROUND 13
ILLAWARRA HAWKS 82 (Jessup 26, Harvey 22, Froling 10)
SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX 80 (Adnam 22, Creek 15, Sykes 14)