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R11 Report: Crocs down weary Wildcats, win series

The Townsville Crocodiles again came back from double digits, wearing down a road-weary Perth side to register a 75-58 win at the Swamp. It has been a decade between drinks for the Crocs, but the home side made the most of a tired Wildcats team to win their first head-to-head series since the 2005/06 season. Perth – who have been on the road since their victory in Sydney last Sunday – made history for the wrong reasons on Saturday, with their 58 points the second-lowest total in club history. Townsville (now holding a 7-12 record) received massive contributions from Jordair Jett (18 points, four rebounds and four assists), while Clint Steindl came up big in their third-quarter push. Nathan Jawai backed up his team-high 13 points in Cairns with another 13, while power forward Matt Knight posted 11 points and eight rebounds. After a 40-point game against Melbourne United last week, Jermaine Beal netted just six on Saturday, ending the four-game Townsville series amassing just 35 points in total. Post-game Townsville coach Shawn Dennis said that it was probably his side’s best defensive game of the year. “I thought we defended pretty well here when we held Melbourne to 66 (points)… but the difference tonight was that it generated some baskets for us,” he said. “I certainly felt that because of the pressure we were putting them under to execute their offence, it wore them down. “They’ve been on the road now for nine or 10 days now and it really showed. And it’s a credit to our guys.” Jawai got the scoreboard ticking as Perth started two-of-two from the floor, but that was simply a scoring explosion relative to the remainder of the first half. The score read 15-8 in favour of the visitors at quarter time, as Townsville registered the lowest first-quarter total (eight) this NBL season and their only sub-10-point first quarter in club history (719 games). Perth were up 26-11 at the 6:11 mark of the second term but managed three turnovers and just one field goal for the rest of the quarter. The visitors’ plus-nine rebounding advantage at half time was negated by their 12 first-half turnovers as Townsville turned the screws defensively. Perth extended their half-time lead to nine early in the third quarter but it was their last run as Townsville attacked in transition, jumpstarted by two Steindl threes and two inside buckets for import Omar Samhan. The one-point lead expanded to 10 by three-quarter time thanks to Jordair Jett who got into the seams and earned foul shots. Townsville opened the final quarter with five straight points as a road-weary Perth (22 turnovers) went out with a whimper, the margin finishing at 17 points. “We don’t want to match the opposition’s intensity or energy and then throw sloppy turnovers that weren’t even forced – it was just bad skills and horrible passing – that’s purely on the players,” Perth veteran Damian Martin said. “We spoke briefly about in one of the timeouts but then we didn’t come out with the intensity again. “Full credit to Townsville, they’ve beaten us 3- this season and each time they’ve beaten us they’ve outplayed us with their energy, enthusiasm and discipline.” Perth (now 13-6) will next face Melbourne United at Hisense Arena on December 27, while Townsville stays at home in wait for Illawarra on New Year’s Eve.   TOWNSVILLE CROCODILES 75 (Jett 18, Steindl 17, Young 10) PERTH WILDCATS 58 (Jawai 13, Knight 11, Jervis 10) BOX SCORE
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