The Illawarra Hawks bounced back to winning ways with a 81-76 victory over the Perth Wildcats on Friday night at WIN Entertainment Centre.
After a disappointing four straight NBL defeats, Illawarra outlasted an undermanned Wildcats outfit on their home court.
Playing without starting guards Damian Martin and Jarrod Kenny, Perth were never out of the game but couldn’t match it with the hosts when it counted.
Illawarra import Marvelle Harris stood tallest in a stellar return to form with a game-high 27 points and five rebounds.
Ten other Hawks got on the scoresheet, but Rotnei Clarke (10 points) was the only other to breach double digits despite an off night for the sharpshooter.
Casey Prather churned out another strong performance for Perth, adding 20 points while Dexter Drew Kernich’s hot shooting saw him score 14 points.
Despite their starting guards, Perth ensured it was never going to be an easy night for the hosts.
Prather and Matt Knight took the game by the scruff of the neck in the first quarter.
The Wildcats duo had half the visitors points at the first break with scores locked at 24-all.
Harris was just as good for the Hawks.
The talented American swingman added two with a classy move earlier in the second before stealing the ball straight after and finishing to have Illawarra in front 39-35.
Prather continued to show his class and hit a driving lay-up which finished in a three point play to have scores level at 45-all just before the break.
A late dunk from Michael Holyfield gave Illawarra a two point lead at the half.
The points dried up to start the third, but when Prather copped his fourth foul midway through the quarter the Hawks had a chance to capitalise.
However, Ogilvy picked up his fourth shortly to have both sides in a similar predicament.
Rhys Martin’s deep two settled things for Illawarra to give them a 65-58 lead as the clock fell below the two minute mark.
It was a 67-62 advantage at the final change.
A strong and-one play from Harris increased their buffer with six minutes remaining in final quarter and Nick Kay’s lay-up had them 75-66 in front.
Perth wouldn’t go away and were back within four points when Jesse Wagstaff hit a clutch three.
Some good defence and three straight trips to the foul line gave the Hawks the buffer they needed.
They went on to prevail by five points.
Illawarra meet Cairns Taipans at home on Sunday.