Hawks seal finals spot with dominant win

AJ Ogilvy. Picture: ADAM McLEAN
AJ Ogilvy. Picture: ADAM McLEAN

The Illawarra Hawks stormed into the NBL finals with an emphatic 106-79 demolition of the Brisbane Bullets at WIN Entertainment Centre on Saturday evening.

Needing a win to seal their passage to the post-season, the Hawks were always in control against an undermanned Bullets squad.

A shooting masterclass saw them lead by 30 points at the main break and they refused to take their foot off the pedal in the second half.

Veteran forward Oscar Forman had 26 points, including 8/16 from three point range to match his career high from beyond the arc.

AJ Ogilvy was at his dominant best with 22 points and six rebounds before sitting for the entire fourth quarter while Rotnei Clarke 24 points and six assists.

Bullets import Torrey Craig was a shining light for the cellar dwellers compiling 30 points and 16 rebounds. Daniel Kickert had 14 points.

Brisbane were only ever in touching distance in the first quarter.

Ogilvy led the way for the Hawks in the opening exchanges with 10 points in the first six minutes while Craig (11 points) was equally productive for the Bullets.

However, it wasn't long before Illawarra built a buffer as Clarke and Forman came off the bench to provide some added firepower.

Their efforts helped propel Illawarra to a 31-18 lead at the first change.

Things only got better for the hosts from then on as the Bullets struggled to slow a rampant Hawks side.

When Clarke connected with his second three of the match, Illawarra had surged 45-24 clear.

Forman piled on the pain for Brisbane, draining a hat-trick of threes on three straight possessions to help the Hawks to a virtually unassailable half time lead.

Illawarra hit 11/23 (48%) from beyond the arc in the first half and 22/37 (59%) overall to hold a commanding 64-34 lead at the main break.

Craig provided a rare spark in an otherwise ugly first half for the Bullets, tallying 18 points and seven rebounds.

The second half was a mere formality.

Ogilvy continued to be a cause nuisance inside, scoring the Hawks first three baskets after the break.

A quick flurry from Bullets big man Mitch Young saw the visitors cut the advantage back to 25 points, but that was as close as they come.

It was 87-53 at the final change as Forman’s three point masterclass rolled on.

The Hawks would finish the match shooting 37/71 (52%) in a dominant 27 point win.

They will now play the waiting game to find out their playoffs opponent with the final round set to wrap up on Sunday.