Poise under pressure was one of the Wollongong Hawks' keys to success in Friday's clash with the Cairns Taipans.
The Hawks relied on suffocating defence to build a 35-25 half-time lead and withstood a spirited fightback in the third quarter to remain up by 10 heading into the final period.
Cairns responded again to trim the deficit to two before Oscar Forman (14 points, eight rebounds, three blocks), Rhys Martin (12 points, five rebounds, four assists) and Larry Davidson (15 points, six rebounds) steadied the ship in crunch time to secure a 68-58 win.
"You have to make plays down the stretch," Wollongong coach Gordie McLeod said.
"You can run a lot of things but at the end of the day someone has to make a play and put the ball in the hole.
"The pleasing thing was that we stayed aggressive as a group when Cairns made a run and we stuck to what we wanted to do. We stayed positive and stayed strong and got good contributions from different people down the stretch."
Wollongong are unbeaten after two rounds, while the Taipans slipped to 1-1.
Though the Hawks made just 3/20 three-point shots and 11/18 free throws, they out-rebounded the home side 42-36, with Forman, Glen Saville and Dave Gruber grabbing eight boards apiece.
Former Hawks forward Cam Tragardh was the standout for the Taipans with 20 points and eight rebounds.
Both teams were down a couple of injured players but the Hawks were a step ahead of their opponents for most of the night.
"I wouldn't say it was one of our greatest performances, but we're finding ways to grind it out and get over the line," McLeod said.
"The guys did a really good job of disrupting, and we were very pleased with what we were able to keep them to score-wise - especially on the road. The other thing we did well was rebound.
"We're still finding our way as a group but it was pleasing that we found ways to get over the line and we had good contributions from all guys. It was a very pleasing team performance.
"I guess the exciting thing is that there's a lot of room for improvement. We have to find that individually and as a team."
The Hawks will be aiming to maintain their perfect start to the season when they host Townsville on Sunday afternoon.
A big crowd is expected for the family-friendly 4pm tip-off time and tickets are available through Ticketek.