Crunch time as Hawks take last-gasp win

NBL

The Wollongong Hawks played their best basketball in crunch time to overcome a stubborn Melbourne Tigers 74-66 yesterday at Hisense Arena.

Once again, Hawks guard Adris Deleon rose to the occasion in the fourth quarter, scoring 11 of his team's final 13 points to finish with 18.

He also had five rebounds, five assists and two steals.

Wollongong are at the top of the NBL ladder with a 7-1 record and are on the road again this Sunday against the Cairns Taipans.

Complete coverage of the Wollongong Hawks

After grinding out a 39-36 half-time lead yesterday, the Hawks fell behind by two at the end of the third period.

But Rhys Martin nailed a couple of big shots before Deleon took over in the final five minutes, living up to his nickname '2hard2guard'.

Hawks forward Glen Saville was outstanding from start to finish, racking up 15 points and seven rebounds.

Centre Larry Davidson had 12 points, five rebounds and three assists, while Martin and fellow guard Lance Hurdle combined for 17 points.

Former NBA guard Jonny Flynn led the Tigers with 19 points and eight assists and Lucas Walker finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Saville was impressed with the Hawks' stoic defence and satisfied with his own offensive performance.

"It wasn't too bad. It comes and goes every half-dozen games," the two-time Olympian said of his hot shooting, which saw him hit 3/4 three-pointers.

"It felt pretty good today. It kind of got us going in the first half, and then it was just a case of roll the ball to Adris and let him make some plays.

"Pretty much the last quarter we just zoned our defence. We wanted to make them play from the perimeter and take away their inside game.

"Holding another team in the 60s, that's something we hang our hat on."

If the Hawks looked comfortable and self-assured when the game was on the line, Melbourne struggled to create open shots.

Tigers guard Chris Goulding (two points, 1/10 field goals) was particularly erratic, taking and missing several wild shots in the fourth quarter.

Hawks captain Oscar Forman endured a terrible offensive night (zero points, 0/9 shooting), but pulled down a number of key rebounds (nine).

As they have done all season, the Tigers came out firing in the first quarter, building an early 9-3 lead.

Davidson drained his second three-pointer to bridge the gap, while Saville hit a pair of free throws to bring the Hawks within a point after six minutes.

Hurdle came to the party with a jump-shot and followed with a steal and three a minute later, to give Wollongong their first lead.

Melbourne re-took the lead on Bennie Lewis's three, but Dan Jackson hit two foul shots to give the visitors a 21-20 quarter-time lead.

Saville gave the Hawks a perfect start to the second period with a three, though Lewis stayed hot with a couple of threes of his own to put the Tigers up 26-24.

Saville hit back with another three, sparking a 12-2 surge that put the Hawks up by eight with just over four minutes left in the half.

Worrying signs were appearing for the Tigers, as Deleon started dancing around defenders and setting up open teammates.

Just when Wollongong threatened to take hold of the game, Melbourne scored six unanswered points.

Saville calmly dropped his third three of the half to silence the crowd before Flynn made a twisting lay-up on the half-time buzzer to trim the Hawks' lead to 39-36.

Of those 39 points, Saville had 13. He also had five of his team's 16 rebounds.

Davidson was up to eight points, Hurdle had five, while Jackson and Dave Gruber each had four.

Lewis led the Tigers with nine points (3/3 three-pointers) and Flynn had seven to go with six assists.

Little separated the teams in the main statistics.

Wollongong made 42 per cent of their shots compared to 46 for Melbourne, while the rebounds were dead even at 16 apiece.

The Hawks struggled to get going in the third period, allowing their opponents to start with an 11-4 run, but the result in the final period was never in doubt once the mercurial Deleon took over.

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