ILLAWARRA have sunk to their second straight loss, going down 95-83 to a Todd Blanchfield-inspired Melbourne United at Hisense Arena on Sunday.
Blanchfield finished with 27 points, with an incredible eight of nine from three-point range to tie teammate Chris Goulding’s club record, as United shot at a collective 70 per cent from long range through three quarters.
After leading by one at the half, Blanchfield had four triples in a telling third quarter performance with his 9-10 from long range a better clip than the entire Hawks roster who managed just eight of 34 in a dismal shooting performance.
While Blanchfield was undoubtedly the star there was no shortage of support acts with Goulding (16), Cedric Jackson (14) and Tai Wesley all in double figures for the hosts.
With the Hawks misfiring from the long-range big-man Michael Holyfield proved the standout for the visitors, producing his first NBL double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds in a commanding performance inside.
Fellow import Marvelle Harris continued his run of consistency with 20 points and five steals while AJ Ogilvy had 10 points and eight boards but it was Melbourne’s night.
It leaves the Hawks with some questions to answer ahead of their trip to Perth on Thursday, chief among them re-finding their perimeter game
“We’ve had two bad [shooting performances] in a row,” Hawks coach Rob Beveridge said post-match.
“Obviously in round one it was tremendous, everyone was making them, but we shot at 17 per cent on Thursday against Sydney and 24 per cent tonight. I was happy with a lot of it, the shot selection was pretty good, but they just weren’t going down tonight.
“On the other side of it you’ve got Todd Blanchfield and from a fan’s perspective that was outstanding. That was just incredible shooting tonight.
“They shot at 70 per cent, we shot 24, that’s the game right there. We lost by 12, it could’ve been a lot worse.”
The Hawks shot out of the blocks with a 6-0 run with Clarke, Ogilvy and Rhys Martin all getting easy buckets. United responded with a 9-0 run of their own with Goulding and Blanchfield both hitting from the perimeter as the home-side made quick work of the deficit.
Ogilvy dropped a rare triple while Harris, Nick Kay and Martin all got on the sheet with Cody Ellis adding three from the line and a slam from Holyfield gave the Hawks a 25-20 advantage at the first break..
An Oscar Forman three on buzzer kept the margin at just one at the main break but it was all Melbourne after the resumption with Blanchfield playing the key role an a telling 13-1 run to start the term.
Blanchfield managed two more triples and a mid-range jumper before taking a seat midway through the quarter. Holyfield had eight points for the quarter but the Hawks couldn’t find their range from the perimeter, heading into the final quarter trailing by 11.
Goulding bit back to back threes to start the fourth to effectively put the game to bed before Blanchfield hit his eight bomb as the lead swelled to 17.
Clarke finally found his range with two threes in the final term while Harris also hit from long-range but it was too little too late.