Red-hot Adelaide ruin Hawks home finale

SOLO EFFORT: Demitrius Conger had a game-high 27 points in Illawarra's 111-87 loss to Adelaide on Sunday. Picture: Georgia Matts
SOLO EFFORT: Demitrius Conger had a game-high 27 points in Illawarra's 111-87 loss to Adelaide on Sunday. Picture: Georgia Matts

THEY won’t see finals action this season and Illawarra could well be fighting to avoid a wooden spoon finish after slumping to a 111-87 loss to Adelaide on Sunday.

It leaves them just one win clear of Sydney and Brisbane who face each other in a final round. Hawks face a tough road double against New Zealand and minor premiers Melbourne.

Should they drop both, percentages could see them finish at the bottom of the ladder and prove an ignominious finish to their campaign.

In their final home game of the season, the Hawks were dealt a blow with Rotnei Clarke a late withdrawal with a foot injury while AJ Ogilvy kitted up but took no part in the match.

Despite the disruption, the hosts only trailed by four at three-quarter-time, after 16 lead changes, but were blown away in the fourth to ultimately go down by 24.

Demitrius Conger continued to mount a compelling case for MVP honours at season’t end with 27 points in a losing effort, while Mitch Norton had 12 of his 15 points in the first half. Off-contract veteran Tim Coenraad provided a timely reminder of his value from the bench finishing with 15 points.

The Hawks had no answer for Daniel Johnson inside, with the star big man finishing with 21 points and seven rebounds while Shannon Shorter had 20 points and five assists.

Mitch Creek (16) Nathan Sobey (15) and Josh Childress (14) were the other men in double figures.

Beveridge admitted his under-manned side had few answers for the rampant 36ers.

“You walk away from that and, when you look at it, Adelaide’s had our number this season but they weren’t a 24-point better team than us,” Beveridge said.

“They’re an outstanding team and they’ve got all the pieces to win this championship. They made some big-time shots to start that fourth quarter. 

“What was important for us was that we didn’t embarrass ourselves. We fought really, really hard considering the injuries we’re carrying.

“Our expectation as a club, and I know its the same for the players, we’ve got two to go and we want to get another win. We don’t want to be the wooden-spooners, simple as that.”

Norton kicked things off with back to back threes as the Hawks shot out to a five-point lead midway through the opening term.

Shorter had two threes of his own as he led a 12-3 run for the hosts. He finished the quarter with 12 points to give his side a three-point lead at the first break.

Johnson and Conger traded threes to start the second before four points to Shorter sparked an 8-0 run. Conger took momentum for his side, dropping three from the foul-line and slamming home a fast break to draw within three.

Conger added seven points to start the third with Coenraad and Norton bringing their side level at 71 apiece from the foul-line.

Sobey’s ejection midway through the third brought the home crowd into the match before late lay-up from Shorter saw the visitors take a four-point lead into the final term.

It quickly turned to 10 when he and Johnson dropped threes to start the fourth. It forced Beveridge into an early timeout but there was no stopping the 36ers who cruised to victory with a 35-15 fourth-quarter.

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