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R14 Report: Gliddon stars, Taipans stonewall Townsville

The Cairns Taipans have gained a 2-1 edge in the Reptile Rumble, defeating the Crocs 75-61 at the Cairns Convention Centre on Friday night. Winning consecutive games for the first time this season, Cairns now hold a 9-11 record and are starting to find an identity in their against-the-odds push for a playoff spot. For the second game in a row the Snakes held their opponent to a season-low points total after denying Townsville’s initial offensive actions time after time. The home side was led by captain Cameron Gliddon’s 25 points and Torrey Craig’s 15 and six rebounds, while Townsville got 15 points from Mirko Djeric and a dozen from Omar Samhan. “Offensively we are not going to rack up 100 points just like some of the other teams can in the competition, so we have got to find a different way to play,” Taipans coach Aaron Fearne said after his 100th win as an NBL coach. “If it wasn’t for Mirko getting hot there in that fourth quarter, they would have struggled to get 50 (points) probably.” Markel Starks bounced back in his second game after returning from injury, netting eight first-quarter points, as the Snakes led 25-16 at the end of one. After a 16-point first term the Crocs started the second on fire, with Samhan getting scores down low, including a copybook post fadeaway. Mitch Norton canned a corner three and Townsville had managed half of their first-quarter score in just over two minutes. But that’s when it all fell apart. In much the same fashion as Cairns’ second quarter against Perth two days prior, the Snakes put the brakes on Townsville’s scoring. Three turnovers in as many Crocs possessions took the wind out of the visitors’ sails, while on the other end Craig went on a personal 7-0 run including a three late in the shot clock and a signature baseline alley-oop from Gliddon. It was one of two times Craig took flight on the quarter, with the tandem delivering a carbon copy play three minutes later. The Crocs struggled mightily, with seven turnovers on the quarter (12 by half time), and failing to score a single point in the final 7:45 of the half. Cairns stretched the margin to 25 on Cameron Tragardh’s bucket late in the third term but in typical Townsville fashion, the jumpshots started to fall – and rapidly. Mirko Djeric, one of the league’s streakiest shooters, had it working on Friday. He has dared to dream multiple times this season, and the 20-year-old had Townsville’s faithful thinking anything was possible once more. Five threes in 3:38 either side of three-quarter time had the Crocs sniffing the most unlikely of wins, and when Chris Cedar landed a long bomb – his first NBL points since the 2012/13 season – the score read 69-55 with 6:16 remaining. It was a margin Townsville had pegged back multiple times this season, but it was not to be as Gliddon helped bury the Crocs with three triples in the final term. “Our impatience on offence cost us dearly early on,’ Crocs coach Shawn Dennis said post-game. “We’ve talked a lot in recent weeks about teams having an early scout to slow us up initially in our offence, and being more patient and shift the ball. We didn’t do a good enough job of that.” The Crocs have a couple of injury concerns, with import Jordair Jett requiring stitches after being hit with an elbow, and Djeric suffering a black eye after being on the receiving end of another elbow. The Snakes are at home to Melbourne on Wednesday, while Townsville (7-14) host Adelaide next Saturday.   CAIRNS TAIPANS 75 (Gliddon 25, Craig 15, Tragardh 14) TOWNSVILLE CROCODILES 61 (Djeric 15, Samhan 12, Kay 10) BOX SCORE
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