Hawks defeat: lack of early rhythm costly

BASKETBALL

Weak rebounding and interior defence cost the Wollongong Hawks dearly in Friday's 80-68 road loss to the Perth Wildcats.

The Hawks shrugged off a horror start against the Wildcats - they trailed 19-7 after the opening quarter - and gamely fought back to lead by four late in the third period.

But they were out-played down the stretch, allowing the Cats to level their four-match regular season series at 1-1.

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Wollongong were hammered under the boards, losing the rebound battle 43-25.

In the previous week's loss to Cairns they were out-rebounded 42-24.

Fifteen of the Cats' rebounds were at the offensive end, whereas the Hawks grabbed just five offensive boards. Tellingly, the home team out-scored their opponents 24-0 on second-chance points.

Perth also took advantage of their size inside, scoring 34 points in the paint compared to Wollongong's 16.

"They did a fantastic job in the first quarter of taking us out of our stuff," Hawks coach Gordie McLeod said yesterday.

"They didn't let us get into any sort of rhythm with their disruptive defence. It took us a long time to get a handle on that.

"The biggest thing was the defensive end of the floor with rebounding and second-chance points.

"They were two key factors that really killed us.

"We gave up 34 points in the paint for the game and that's way way too much. We gave up 15 offensive boards and that equated to 24 second-chance points through those extra possessions.

"We got a few offensive rebounds, but we didn't capitalise and score on them. That was a significant feature of the game.

"It was pleasing that we did find a way to get back into the game and make a contest of it, but we just didn't have enough guys up playing where we need them to be."

Hawks centre Larry Davidson had a forgettable night, finishing with four points and no rebounds.

Guard Adris Deleon also struggled, making just 5/17 shots, while Glen Saville hit just 1/7.

Lance Hurdle and Oscar Forman each led Wollongong with 17 points, knocking down a collective 8/15 three-pointers.

Rhys Martin was solid with 13 points and six assists, while Dave Gruber worked hard for his eight rebounds, three points and three blocks.

"Obviously when we started to shoot the ball better we were able to apply some pressure at both ends of the floor," McLeod said of his team's spirited second-half revival.

"We were able to do it in patches, especially in the third quarter, but down the stretch, there was a couple of key plays that broke our back and they took it away from us."

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