Some teams save their best until last.
On Sunday night the Wollongong Hawks served up one of their worst performances of a disastrous season against the NBL’s hottest side.
The Adelaide 36ers strode into Wollongong on a nine-game win streak and met little resistance on the way to making it 10 straight, crushing the Hawks 105-85 to clinch third spot.
Wooden spooners Wollongong were virtually clueless from start to finish, closing out the 28-game regular season with a forgettable which left their record at 6-22 - the second-worst in club history.
The Hawks were missing key players Tim Coenraad and Larry Davidson through injury, but the Sixers were without forward Brock Motum.
If not for Rhys Martin’s hot perimeter shooting in the third quarter and rarely-used guard Tyson Demos’s whole-hearted effort off the bench, Wollongong would’ve lost by a lot more.
On a positive note, coach Gordie McLeod refuted a website report that strongly suggested he was set to resign.
McLeod is in the first year of a three-year contract and said he had no intention of walking away.Hawks centre Luke Nevill finished with a team-high 14 points and Jahii Carson had 13.
Mitch Creek led the 36ers with 24 and was one of five players in double figures.
The Hawks were unable to give retiring forward Adam Ballinger a triumphant farewell after 12 seasons, four of which were spent with Wollongong.
Ballinger got the nod to start in place of Davidson and scored his team’s first five points.Wollongong were down by two when Martin headed to the bench with his second foul.
The Sixers took advantage of his absence, out-scoring the Hawks 17-2 over the ensuing five minutes.
Carson broke the drought with back to back baskets, but he lazily allowed Gibson to launch an open shot in the closing seconds and Adelaide were up 30-14 at quarter-time.
The Hawks hit just 6/24 shots, while the Sixers were red-hot with 11/17. They also grabbed 12 rebounds to Wollongong’s eight.
Things only got worse for the home team in the second period, as the margin crept up to 17.The Hawks briefly flirted with a comeback when they cut the deficit to 11, but that only made the Sixers mad.
They turned up the defensive heat and were in perfect harmony at the offensive end, clinically building a 57-36 half-time lead.Showcasing their versatility, Adelaide had four players in double figures by halftime, led by Mitch Creek’s 15.
Carson and Luke Nevill had nine apiece for the Hawks, who missed 28 of their 41 shots.
The Hawks closed the gap to 13 points at three-quarter time after 11 points by Martin, but the Sixers regained total control in the opening moments of the final period and cruised to a comfortable victory.