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R15 Report: Sharpshooting United spoil Worthington 300th

Mark Worthington did all he could in his 300th NBL game but Melbourne United put on a shooting clinic, blasting the Cairns Taipans off their home floor in an 83-65 win on Wednesday. The difference was made from downtown as United – who shot a better percentage from outside the arc than inside – connected on 14/27 from downtown compared to Cairns’ 2/18. Led by Chris Goulding and Stephen Holt on 19 points United shared the load, with five players in double figures as the Taipans were just a two-man band. “It was a really big win for us,” Melbourne coach Dean Demopoulos said post-game. “It’s getting towards the stretch run; I think there are six games left. (Our) preparation has been good for a while now, but sometimes you don’t get the fruits of your labour when you want it all the time. “Any time you win on the road against a well-coached team that’s hot, it’s a good accomplishment and it’s something you can build on. “This is just the start. I think we are nowhere near where we could be.” Worthington netted a game-high 22 points in his milestone game, receiving a massive contribution from Torrey Craig (20 points and 15 rebounds), who posted his fifth double-double of the season. But the Snakes simply did not have enough troops on the night. The Taipans have given up just 65.25 points in their past four home games but Melbourne came in looking ready to double that figure, with triples to Todd Blanchfield and Goulding in the very first minute. While Taipans home games are typically run at a snail’s pace, United owned tempo in the opening exchanges before Cairns’ defence picked up the ball early and slowed things down to the halfcourt. Worthington came out with the energy of a rookie and had eight points in the opening quarter, but Hakim Warrick’s and-one following two offensive boards proved the difference between both sides after one quarter. Worthington continued to toil, but United’s margin was extending. The visitors shot 4/8 from deep in the first quarter compared to Cairns’ 0/3, and the trend continued in the second as Melbourne went into the main break 8/14 and holding a 43-31 lead. Nate Tomlinson’s 35-footer as the half-time buzzer sounded hit nothing but net, and summed up Cairns’ first 20 minutes, as the locals (1/8 three-pointers) failed to pick apart Melbourne’s zone. United continued the three-point party, as Goulding and Daniel Kickert made two triples each, and the game was all but over at 67-48 by three-quarter time. The well dried up for Melbourne in the fourth term but the damage had been done as Worthington and Craig ran out of help. “Some of the threes we gave up were just embarrassing,” Taipans coach Aaron Fearne said post-game. “It just came back to the lack of commitment to the game plan and the executing of the rules and what we wanted to do. “That (lack of intent tonight) pisses me off, to be honest. We have been pretty good and improving, then to come out and not have that edge that you need… you’ve only got to be off a little bit in this League.” Both sides face each other in the second leg of the home-and-home on Friday at the State Netball and Hockey Centre.   MELBOURNE UNITED 83 (Goulding 19, Holt 19, Warrick 14) CAIRNS TAIPANS 65 (Worthington 22, Craig 20, Starks 10) BOX SCORE
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