By Asa Schuster, Pagemasters
The Wollongong Hawks have given their playoff hopes a much-needed boost following a 86-62 victory over the Townsville Crocodiles at the WIN Entertainment Centre on Sunday.
Wollongong's star duo of Adris Deleon (28 points) and Oscar Forman (22 points, 6-of-7 threes) led the way from the opening minutes, when Deleon notched the first four points of the game.
Deleon then powered in 11 of Wollongong's 18 third-quarter points to again ignite the Hawks, who snapped their five-game losing run at home and pushed their way into a tie for fourth place with arch rivals the Sydney Kings.
''The big thing tonight was Adris being able to get to the rim and being able to collapse the defence and we were able to move the ball and get our perimeter guys going,'' Hawks coach Gordie McLeod said.
''Adris didn't have a turnover, that's a big thing when you're running the team and teams are coming after you.''
Todd Blanchfield topped the scores for Townsville with 13 points and 12 rebounds, while Gary Ervin and Peter Crawford each added 11.
''Defensively we were horrendous, we didn't follow the scouting report,'' Crocs coach Paul Woolpert said.
''Once we went small in the fourth quarter and started switching everything, we got it back to 10 and had effort, but our effort from the starting group wasn't what we needed.''
Deleon and Forman combined for 15 points in the opening quarter, with the Hawks captain draining three long balls to build a 27-21 advantage for the home team.
Forman showed some slick footwork for a score in the paint as part of a sudden run of 10 unanswered points by him and Deleon to expand their lead to 14 midway through the second.
A late three from Crawford seemed to stop the bleeding for the Crocs, but Tyson Demos beat the shot-clock on a desperate 25-foot three-pointer to have Wollongong up 49-35 at the half.
Consecutive threes by Forman and Deleon opened up a 20-point buffer midway through the third, but Townsville recovered through a trio of bombs by Blanchfield and Jacob Holmes to shave the deficit to 15 (67-52) heading to the fourth.
Seven straight points by Michael and Chris Cedar saw the Crocs creep within 10 points, before Malcolm Grant and Forman relieved the pressure with back-to-back threes.
The Hawks import backcourt duo then posted the next four points to put the finishing touches on, with Grant converting a crafty running lay-up and Deleon somehow capping another strong drive to the hoop.
''I'm getting real comfortable with the offence and I know what I want to do now,'' Deleon said.
''So when you do that, you can pick and choose what you want to do and I can just dictate who I kick the ball to.''
Wollongong Hawks 86 (Deleon 28, Forman 22, Grant 12)
Townsville Crocodiles 62 (Blanchfield 13, Ervin 11, Crawford 11)
Crowd: 3006 at WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong