Wildcats upset United in overtime thriller
The Wildcats prevailed 102-95 for their first road win of the season and back-to-back victories in the space of three days to go from 2-5 to 4-5.
Perth scored the first seven points of the overtime period to get some breathing space before holding their nerve late.
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The last quarter was full of drama with John Rillie’s coaches challenge with 1.8 seconds left successful with the scores at 89-all, just as former NBA star Matthew Dellavedova looked like getting a chance to win the game at the free-throw line.
Jordan Usher came to life late off the bench, keeping his team in it with 10 final-term points including a clutch lead-changing three with 5.1 on the clock.
Fellow import Kristian Doolittle enjoyed his best game as a Wildcat, finishing with a season-high 18 points to go with seven rebounds and five assists.
Superstar Bryce Cotton had another big outing to show he’s well and truly back, backing up his 29-point haul against Adelaide on Friday night with another 24 and six rebounds.
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Frenchman Alex Sarr was another big contributor with 17 points and six rebounds, while veteran Jesse Wagstaff’s experience and leadership were important late on his way to eight rebounds and six points.
Wagstaff, who reached 1500 career rebounds on the night, had a much bigger influence than the stats sheet showed.
The Wildcats conceded the opening bucket of the game before going on a 12-0 run with Doolittle and new starter Hyrum Harris prominent.
United were dealt an early blow with former Wildcat Luke Travers suffered a concussion after his head collided with a teammate’s knee.
Import Ian Clark joined Travers on the sidelines before half-time after a hamstring injury.
The home side hit back before quarter-time to take a 26-24 lead with their outside shooting particularly dangerous.
The second term was a see-sawing and intense affair with the lead changing multiple times.
Melbourne’s buffer grew to eight before Perth clawed their way back late to make it a three-point game at the main break as Doolittle, reaching double digits for the first time as a Wildcat, hitting a buzzer-beating three to tally his first-half tally to 12.
Fellow big man Keanu Pinder nailed another triple soon after the resumption to tie the scores at 49-apiece.
Wagstaff had an impact when he was injected into the game, hitting a couple of tough shots including one from outside of the arc.
Melbourne went on a 8-0 run around three-quarter time before it was Usher time, turned a one-point deficit into a two-point lead with his second three.
The Wildcats return home on Tuesday before hosting New Zealand at RAC Arena on Friday night.