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R3 Report: Crocs pull off stunning comeback in Perth

The Townsville Crocodiles have pulled off a remarkable comeback with 12 of the last 14 points to beat the Perth Wildcats 66-63 at Perth Arena on Friday night. The Wildcats came out firing with the first 24 of 29 points, but the Crocs refused to go away and a pair of threes to Mitch Norton down the stretch, and another to Leon Henry with 30 seconds left secured their first victory in Perth since the 2009 playoffs. The Crocs were playing their fifth straight road game and had a 31-point loss in Melbourne on Wednesday, but never gave up despite falling 20 points down in the opening quarter. Norton was the star for Townsville with 20 points as the emerging point guard nailed 4-of-5 three-point attempts. "By far (best win I've played in). I've never won in Perth and especially off the back of that Melbourne game, to come in and show some guts, toughness and a lot of heart, it really shows where this group can go," Norton said. "I was feeling pretty good (after the late threes). My teammates were setting great screens for me and I was able to come off and knock some shots down. I was feeling good and coach ran a few plays for me, and it paid off." Jordair Jett added 10 points, four rebounds and four assists while Corey Maynard (seven points), Brian Conklin (seven) and Henry (seven points, seven rebounds) were strong contributors. Matt Knight was a power of strength inside for the Wildcats with 18 points and seven rebounds. Jermaine Beal had nine points, Nate Jawai nine (before leaving the game hurt) and Shawn Redhage eight to go with eight rebounds and five assists before fouling out. Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson was far from happy with what he saw over the last three quarters. "We got up and we just started taking short cuts," Gleeson said. "We stopped executing our plays, we stopped having each other's back and full credit to Townsville. It's very disappointing from our stand but congratulations to Townsville. They played harder than we did which is disappointing in this arena." Both teams had some important outs with Wildcats import Casey Prather sitting with captain Damian Martin with Luke Schenscher a significant loss for the Crocs to tackle Perth's big men. It was all Wildcats early scoring the opening eight points and leading 24-5 after seven minutes, but the Crocodiles showed good fight to steady the ship and by half-time trailed by just four points. A couple of quick Norton threes for Townsville in the third quarter saw scores tied and then heading into the fourth it was the Wildcats leading 50-48 setting up a thrilling finish. The Wildcats appeared in control leading 61-54 but two threes to Norton had the margin one point before Henry put the Crocs in front for the first time in the game with 30 seconds left and that's where they stayed. Both teams face the Illawarra Hawks next, firstly the Wildcats at WIN Entertainment Centre on Sunday and then the Crocs on Wednesday at home. Townsville Crocodiles 66 (Norton 20, Jett 10) Perth Wildcats 63 (Knight 18, Beal 9, Jawai 9) BOX SCORE
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