The Perth Wildcats have smashed the Wollongong Hawks 93-65 in front of 10,904 at Perth Arena in game one of their semi–finals, giving them a one-nil advantage in the best-of-three series.
The Wildcats were in charge for most of the night, but asserted themselves with a dominant second quarter, which set them up for the remainder of the game.
Relentless efforts on the boards also played a big part in the win, as the ‘Cats pulled down twice as many rebounds as the Hawks, while offensively had one of their best shooting nights of the year, making 50 per cent from the field
It was a team effort for Perth, but putting in big performances were Greg Hire with 10 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, Kevin Lisch with 15 points and four assists, while Matt Knight scored 15 points and seven rebounds.
Cameron Tovey also had a night out after announcing his retirement earlier in the day with 11 points and three rebounds.
Tovey started on the floor for the first time this season and had an impact with an early steal and deep two, but it was the Hawks who had the early jump on the Wildcats.
However, the Wildcats fought back and after an entertaining first quarter and held a three-point lead heading into the first break.
As they’ve done so often this season, the Wildcats went about inflicting some serious damage on their opposition in the second quarter, scoring 24 points and opening up a 14-point early lead thanks to big halves from Damian Martin, Rhys Carter and Cameron Tovey.
Rebounding continued to be Perth’s most dominant statistic as they maintained their lead in the second half and Kevin Lisch turned up the heat on Wollongong.
With the game far from sealed, the Wildcats jumped ahead in the final term with big defensive plays from Martin, while Tovey continued to have his best game of the season and rack up baskets at the offensive end.
From there, the home team romped to victory on the energy generated from a noisy Perth Arena crowd to secure an emphatic 28-point win.
Wildcats coach Rob Beveridge says despite some minor errors he was pleased with the performance.
“I think the intensity level we played at, the way we rebounded, the way we shared the ball, I think was exceptional, in the final quarter in particular,” he said.
“We don’t care who top scores or anything like that, some teams have higher scorers, and with us we have five or six people that can score at any time, and obviously if you have five guys in double figures it makes it very tough to defend.”
The Wildcats now head to Wollongong for game two of the semi-final series on Sunday morning.
Tip-off is at 10am AWST with live coverage on NBL.TV, Sonshine FM and ABC Grandstand Digital, while Ten will cover the game from 1pm in all markets.
Perth Wildcats 93 (Kevin Lisch 15, Matt Knight 15, Cameron Tovey 11)
Wollongong Hawks 65 (Time Coenraad 16, Adris Deleon 16)