Hawks lack focus in disappointing loss

BASKETBALL

If Wollongong were desperate in Friday’s road duel with Townsville, they sure didn’t show it.

After three straight losses, the Hawks had hoped to revive their flagging finals prospects against a team on an eight-game losing slide.

But the Crocodiles had a look of urgency in their eyes all night that the visitors never really found.

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The Crocs erased Wollongong’s early 6-2 lead, keeping star import Rotnei Clarke well below his 20-point scoring average on the way to an 80-67 victory.

‘‘Our focus was there but when we came out we didn’t match their intensity and their effort and hunger,’’ Hawks captain Oscar Forman said.

‘‘They were aggressive and they looked like they wanted it more than us.’’

Clarke scored Wollongong’s first six points but added only six more, making just five of his 16 shot attempts for the game.

Kevin Tiggs racked up 17 points and Tim Coenraad had 15, but Forman (10) was the only other player to reach double figures, as the Hawks hit just 5/18 three-point shots.

‘‘Our execution was off,’’ Forman said.

‘‘They were dropping threes and we had a bad shooting night.

‘‘Rotty was hot early but they did a good job of taking his catches away and making it difficult for him after that, and we didn’t do a good job of helping him and counteracting with other players.

‘‘We had a lot of defensive breakdowns and they killed us by getting extra shots from offensive rebounds, the usual kind of story.’’

Wollongong (6-13) are seventh on the ladder with nine games left –  one win ahead of Townsville (5-13) –  and host second-placed Adelaide (13-6) this Sunday.

More losses will put them in danger of finishing with just the second wooden spoon in the club’s 35-year existence.

But Forman is thinking only of staying in the hunt.

‘‘We’re in contention, everyone’s in contention,’’ the 32-year-old forward said.

‘‘We really needed that Townsville game to build momentum after losing three in a row. Obviously every game we lose from here on makes it tougher...

‘‘The motivation is strong as ever to get that fourth spot. First and second is out and maybe third, but all year it seems third and fourth have been up for grabs and it’ll probably stay that way until the last round.

‘‘We’re three wins out of the [top] four, so we just need to win games and see where it leaves us when the dust settles.’’

The Hawks have lost twice on the road to Adelaide.

‘‘They were both close games and we can take some confidence from that,’’ Forman said.

Wollongong play five of their next six games at home.

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