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R7 Report: Giant-killing Crocs claim upset of the season

Undermanned but undeterred, Townsville Crocs turned in a complete team effort to score one of the bravest wins in club history against league powerhouse Melbourne United at Hisense Arena on Friday night. Without their starting frontcourt in star import Brian Conklin and veteran centre Luke Schenscher, the Crocs didn’t bat an eyelid as they went about controlling possession and forcing Melbourne United into rushed shots in the 82-78 win. The visitors held the lead for 38 out of the 40 minutes and withstood a furious final quarter from Melbourne who had two chances to tie the scores on late three-pointers from Daniel Kickert and Chris Goulding before the Crocs held on. Becoming more of a leader by the game, Mitch Norton led the Crocs with 15 points in his 100th game, while Nick Kay added 14 points and nine rebounds and Clint Steindl added 13 points. Goulding was the game-high scorer with 22 points while Kickert had 17 points and Stephen Holt had 15 points and eight assists. The Crocs also won all the field goal, free throw and three-point percentages over Melbourne, who attempted more triples than two-pointers (35-33) A proud Crocs coach Shawn Dennis praised his players for executing the team’s game plan. “The thing that comes out of it is that when we follow what we plan to do we can compete with anybody – the guys did a terrific job of forcing Melbourne to defend for long periods and that’s something we planned to do and the boys did a really good job of it,” he said post-game. “We’ve always talked about how we are the gutsiest team in the league and we won’t give in because there is a little bit of adversity. Norton was happy his side kept their poise after taking a 20-point lead in the third term but facing a last quarter fightback from Melbourne. “I was like “C’mon” we have 10 minutes to go and I was trying to bring the guys in and make sure they played a bit harder in the final quarter because we knew Melbourne would make a run,” Norton said. “(Playing well down the stretch) is really good signs because we are a young team.” Melbourne United coach Dean Demopoulos said his side had to defend better but he also praised the Crocs’ performance. “Get stops,” Demopoulos said. “Whatever that means takes whether it’s aggressive, not aggressive – whatever it takes to get stops defensively. “(Townsville) were right tonight and it started early, I saw it early but our guys didn’t give in, we dug ourselves a hole that was a little bit too large to get out of.” The Crocs were late to the game after needing to pick up teenager forward Harry Froling from the airport after he finished his last year 12 exam in Canberra on Friday then flew to Melbourne. “As the boys said, ‘let’s get to the game 30 minutes beforehand every week’,” Dennis joked. United face New Zealand Breakers in Auckland on Sunday afternoon while the Crocs’ next game is against Melbourne in Townsville on Thursday night.   TOWNSVILLE CROCODILES 82 (Norton 15, Kay 14, Steindl 13) MELBOURNE UNITED 78 (Goulding 22, Kickert 17, Holt 15) BOX SCORE
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