The Wollongong Hawks wrapped up the 28-game regular season with Sunday’s 86-65 road loss to minor premiers Perth, a game that had no bearing on the final standings.
The Hawks held an early 12-5 lead and were still in the game when they trailed 43-40 at half-time.
But the Wildcats took control with a dominant third period, restricting the visitors to six points to lead by 20 at three-quarter time.
Wollongong finished alone in fourth spot with a 13-15 record and will remain in Perth this week to prepare for Friday’s opening game of a best-of-three semifinal series.
Game two will be played at WIN Entertainment Centre this Sunday at 3pm, while a deciding game, if needed, is scheduled for April 1 back in Perth.
Tickets for game two are on sale through the usual outlets.
Perth are strong favourites for the title after winning 21 games and claiming top spot.
The Cats beat the Hawks in three out of four meetings this season, winning two in Perth by an average of 30.5 points.
Adelaide host Melbourne in game one of the other semifinal series on Thursday night.