Illawarra Hawks produced a masterclass defensive display against Bryce Cotton to upset the red-hot Perth Wildcats 100-82 at WIN Entertainment Centre on Friday night.
It was a sweet victory for the Hawks, who led from start to finish, to pick up just their fourth win of the season and in the process end the Wildcats'six-game winning streak.
All the Hawks big-guns shone to secure interim coach Justin Tatum a second win from three attempts.
But it was the defensive job Illawarra did on MVP favourite Cotton, that was the catalyst for the big win.
They kept the NBL's leading scorer to just seven points.
Sam Froling (21 points) led the Hawks in scoring but he had plenty of support, with Gary Clark (17) Tyler Harvey (16) and Justin Robinson (11) hitting double figures.
The Hawks came out firing in a dominant first quarter, dropping a season high 38 points, and conceding only 18 in the process.
Will Hickey capped the quarter with a buzzer beating three-point shot off the backboard, his second of the first term.
Hickey had seen limited minutes in recent weeks but was brought on early as part of Illawarra's defensive plan to stop Perth gun Bryce Cotton.
The plan worked well with Cotton restricted to just one point in the first stanza.
But Hickey (8 points, 3 rebounds and one blocked shot) and Hawks Next Gen star AJ Johnson (3 points and 2 assists) were producing at both ends of the court.
Though it was Sam Froling who was the biggest thorn in the Wildcats' side, dropping 13 points to lead all scorers.
The Hawks had scored 12 unanswered points before Kristian Doolittle hit a three-point basket for Perth some 3.10 minutes into the first quarter
Perth, who had won their previous six games on the bounce, came out strong in the second quarter and reduced Illawarra's 20-point lead to 11 points midway through the term before the Hawks settled and went to the main break 58-43 to the good.
Tyler Harvey came to the party with six points in the term, to go with his four assists, one steal and one blocked shot.
But it was Hawks co-captain Froling who continue to be a problem for the Wildcats, finishing the half with 17 points to lead all scorers.
Jordan Usher led Perth with nine points, followed closely by veteran Jess Wagstaff (8) and Doolitle (7) and Corey Webster (7).
Cotton had only four points for the half, with all his points coming from the free-throw line.
The Wildcats kept coming in the third quarter and twice got to just six-points behind the Hawks before firstly Johnson hit a clutch three-pointer.
Perth's Next Gen star Alexandre Sarr was also producing the goods, with nine points.
Cotton then finally hit a three but again the Hawks responded, this time from Gary Clark, to see the home side head into the final term 73-65 in front.
Both Froling and Clark praised the Hawks defensive display after the game.
Froling said Illawarra were stinging after their last-start loss to Brisbane and were determined to reward their loyal home fans.
They certainly did, coming up with clutch plays in the fourth quarter as Perth continued to ask questions but the Hawks had all the answers, denying the Wildcats time and time again.
"It was massive for us, after the heartbreak of Brisbane we wanted to come out and reward these fans," Froling said.
Perth coach John Rillie downplayed the defensive job the Hawks did on Cotton.
"He got seven assists and no turnovers.....at the end of the day they made shots, we didn't make shots," he said.
More to come.