A stunning last-second long bomb from Illawarra skipper Tyler Harvey snapped a three-game losing streak and sent the long-suffering Hawks faithful into raptures in Wollongong on Thursday night.
Having squandered a 13-point lead early in the third term, the Hawks slump looked set to continue when Taipans guard Patrick Miller's neat jumper from mid-range took a two-point lead for the visitors with just nine seconds left
Enter Harvey, who got the ball up the floor and let the go-ahead triple fly over a double-team with 1.3 seconds left on the clock for an 84-83 win, lifting the roof off the WEC and delivering the Hawks their second win of the season.
It was yet another clutch moment on the Hawks talisman's resume having hit an indifferent 3-12 from long-range to that point. He finished with 20 points and five assists to avoid a horror 1-5 start for his side.
"In our darkest times right now you sort of forget, but I turned around to my assistants and I said 'that's why we have him'," coach Jacob Jackomas said.
"In that space, he always gives us a chance. I'm happy for him too, obviously, he takes a lot of the brunt of the blame [when we lose], so it's good that people can be reminded how special he is at the end of the clock.
"I'm really happy for him because I think a lot of people take the blame in this thing, Sam (Froling) is one of them, he had a great game 16 [points] and 13 [rebounds], Tyler had a great shot that way. It's not proving anyone wrong, but I'm glad they are able to be celebrated at, at a stage like that."
It came after Jackomas used his last time out with 59 seconds left, meaning Harvey had to create his own shot off the inbound with just seconds left, something he pulled off in similar memorable fashion in New Zealand against the Breakers last season.
"The time-out before, I thought it was more important to make sure Tyler knew they were going at him," Jackomas said.
"At the end of the clock you can run a pretty play to get it, but at the end of the day we wanted the ball in Tyler's hands so the only way we could keep it in his hands was for him to dribble it up the floor and shoot it.
"If we call timeout [and advance the ball], they take him away and now we've got someone else shooting it. You're the class clown if it doesn't work out, but today I guess I'm not."
It came after the Hawks looked to have once again paid the price for third-quarter wobbles, leading by 13 just two minutes after halftime before surrendering a 20-8 run to lead by just a point at three-quarter-time.
In total, the Hawks had the lead for 26 minutes through three-quarters only find themselves down with six seconds to play. It proved ugly but, having conceded an average 99 points per game heading in, sneaking home in a low-scoring graft sill ticked a lot of boxes for Jackomas.
Miller could not have done any more for the visitors, with 24 points, six rebounds and seven assists, while Bul Kuol went 3-6 from long-range in his 19 points, while Sam Waardenburg had 14 points five rebounds and five assists.
Froling had six of his side's first eight points, with an 8-2 mini-break that gave the hosts a 12-9 lead enough for Forde to burn a timeout. It didn't put a dent in the Hawks lead, with Froling taking his tally for the term to nine with a three-point play with a minute to play.
It was part of a 9-2 run that gave the hosts a handy nine-point cushion at the break. The Taipans went 7-2 to start the second, punctuated by Kuol's first three, but consecutive threes to Harvey and AJ Johnson pushed the margin out to double digits for the first time of the night.
Forde called his second timeout when the margin ballooned to 13 on Robinson's first triple. Kuol kept things ticking over for the visitors, adding his second triple and three more from the line on an 8-1 run that pegged the deficit back to six.
The Hawks had just one field goal as the Taipans made a 12-6 run to draw back within six at the main break. Froling had a quick four to start the third, with a transition three from Robinson forcing Forde into a timeout less than two minutes into the term with the margin back out to 13.
The visitors went 15-8 from there, with Waardenburg's second triple prompting Jackomas to call timeout with his side clinging to a six-point lead with two minutes to play in the term.
It did nothing to halt the Snakes momentum as they closed the quarter on a 20-8 run that brought the deficit to a single point.
The visitors took the lead for the first since the fourth minute of the game on a pair from the line from Menenga, with the scores tied seven times from there before Harvey's late heroics.
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