Wildcats too strong in second half for Hawks

For the second time this season the Illawarra Hawks threw everything into a rare win out west, but the Perth Wildcats had another gear to go to in the second half to end up 83-69 winners.

While the Hawks started strongly at RAC Arena on Friday night to lead still 43-42 by half-time, the Wildcats dominated the second half holding Illawarra to just the nine third quarter points.

Overall, the 'Cats outscored the Hawks 41 points to 26 in the second half to score the 14-point win and regain their spot at the top of the NBL ladder in front of Melbourne United.

The result also means that the dominance in Perth for the Wildcats against the Hawks has continued. Whether it's at the old Challenge Stadium or now at RAC Arena, the 'Cats continue to give the Hawks nightmares having won 34 of the last 35 home games that they have hosted Illawarra.

And that includes the Hawks having some Grand Final and semi-final bound teams along that streak of struggling out west including being led by some of the all-time great coaches including Brian Goorjian, Rob Beveridge and Gordie McLeod.

In fact, the Hawks have still only won seven times in Perth no matter the venue in 59 attempts since 1982.

Bryce Cotton had another slow start for the third straight game and again struggled with his shooting overall for the game, but still he had a big say in the final result just through the brilliance he's able to deliver when it matters most.

Cotton had just the one point to half-time, but then was a significant factor in Perth dominating Illawarra in the second to finish the night with 18 points, four assists and three rebounds. 

He only shot 6/21 from the floor and 2/9 from deep, but still he made his shots when they were most needed, and painful to the Hawks.

Former Hawk Todd Blanchfield was a dagger in his old team's side as well putting up 18 points, six rebounds and two assists. All 12 of his field goal attempts were from beyond the three-point arc and he nailed six of them including four in the first quarter alone.

John Mooney shook off his quietest game of his NBL career in Tuesday's win over New Zealand but was terrific back at home on Friday night with 17 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Jesse Wagstaff added 12 points and six rebounds too for Perth with Mitch Norton delivering seven points, five assists and four rebounds.

Sam Froling top-scored for the Hawks with 15 points, eight rebounds, three assists, three blocked shots and two steals on 7/11 shooting in an impressive all-round performance.

Tyler Harvey had 14 points and six rebounds on 5/15 shooting while Justin Simon couldn’t have done much more in trying to give Cotton a hard time while having 10 points, six five rebounds and three steals on 4/8 shooting.

Deng Deng also had eight points for Illawarra with captain AJ Ogilvy battling hard for seven points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks.

Friday night also saw 11,485 fans flock to RAC Arena marking the biggest attendance at any NBL game this season, and it was quite the impressive number considering West Coast and Collingwood were playing an AFL clash down the road at Optus Stadium with over 54,000 on deck.

The Wildcats now remain at home to host the New Zealand Breakers on Sunday while it doesn’t get any easier for the Hawks as they head straight to Melbourne to take on United also on Sunday.


PERTH WILDCATS 83 (Cotton 18, Blanchfield 18, Mooney 17)

ILLAWARRA HAWKS 69 (Sam Froling 15, Tyler Harvey 14, Justin Simon 10) 



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