Wildcats fall short against Hawks at RAC Arena
The Wildcats started slowly and never quite recovered, going down 95-77.
There were a couple of shining lights in an otherwise tough loss with Tai Webster hitting a team-high 16 points, including 10 in the first quarter, and Kristian Doolittle (11 points and 10 rebounds) posting a double-double.
But every time the Wildcats looked like they were getting back into the content, the Hawks had the answers with Todd Blanchfield (16 points), Gary Clark (17) and Tyler Harvey (13) all impactful.
The Hawks started strongly, leading by as much as five points midway through the opening term before a Tai Webster-inspired fightback.
Webster racked up double-digit points before any other player on the court, hitting a couple of threes in the process.
But former Wildcat Blanchfield matched that at the other end to give Illawarra a 28-21 lead at quarter-time.
The Hawks then went on an 8-0 run to start the second term to leave the home crowd stunned.
Trailing 55-35 at the main break, Perth needed a spark and energetic New Zealander Hyrum Harris tried to provide that.
Harris hit the first two buckets of the second half, followed by an and-one after getting fouled while driving to the hoop.
After not hitting a field goal in the first half, Cotton released the shackles with a huge three with a few minutes left in the third term.
Tai Webster then followed suit to cut the deficit back to a dozen before the Hawks hit back before three-quarter time with the score at 71-55 with one term to play.
But that was about as good as it got, with the visitors controlling the final term to come away remained the only undefeated team against Perth.
The Wildcats travel to Melbourne on Friday to take on South East Melbourne Phoenix the following day.