By Murray Wenzel, Pagemasters
Rookie Cam Gliddon stopped Perth's golden run and gave the Taipans their first back-to-back wins for the season in Cairns on Friday night.
His 26 points, six rebounds and five steals - the last to ice the game - were instrumental in the 78-72 victory, while Cam Tragardh (15 points) turned in his best defensive effort of the season.
The offensive powerhouse showed he could do it on the boards too, reeling in 15 rebounds, his 12 in the first half equal to that of the entire Perth team.
His coach Aaron Fearne revealed that Tragardh has been set the task of climbing up the rebounding charts.
"I've set him a little goal to be top five rebounder and he's not far away. He has always focussed on putting the ball in the hoop but I'm making him work on that as well and he was great," Fearne said.
Gliddon, who Perth coach Rob Beveridge described as clinical, started sharply with an early triple and stepped up again when the game needed a hero, draining a three and adding two more steals to help Cairns to a nine-point third-quarter advantage.
"Some of those plays were pretty big. You take the risk sometimes and say 'can they make the shot?' Well guess what - he was sensational," Beveridge acknowledged.
Kevin Lisch (20 points) was sensational for Perth, coming up big with three triples in the final quarter, and Matt Knight (19 points, 6 rebounds) proved a tough match-up in the paint all night.
But with Gliddon constantly ticking the score over and pinching possession the hosts were never headed.
Jamar Wilson (nine points at two-of-11 shooting) had a quiet night, and Alex Loughton (13 points, five assists) was the only other Taipan in double figures.
While Gliddon showed his class, it was his team's general hustle that was most impressive, forcing Perth to shoot at below 30 per cent from the field in the first half and winning the rebound count 38-26.
"We've got to go home and work out how we got comprehensively out-worked," Beveridge said.
"But they can beat anyone; I'm flabbergasted they are not a top four team."
Fearne got fired up after the final buzzer, walking onto the court and exchanging words with the Perth players.
Post-match Fearne said it was just "one of those things in the heat of the moment" while Beveridge was happy to downplay it.
"I have no idea what was going on, I just thought c'mon Aaron you're a coach, walk away," Beveridge said.
Cairns Taipans 78 (Gliddon 26, Tragardh 15, Loughton 13)
Perth Wildcats 72 (Lisch 20, Knight 19, Wagstaff 12)
Crowd: 3820 at Cairns Convention Centre