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R13 Report: Perimeter blitz puts Perth past Crocs
Friday, January 10, 2014, 11:45:49 PM

Key moment: Sparingly-used Drake U'u lit it up with three bombs from long range in the second quarter on his way to a perfect 4-of-4 on the night. The Crocs' heads dropped as his shots continued to fall.

Key player: You can't go past James Ennis as the key for the Wildcats' win, the MVP candidate added another 29 points, seven rebounds, four steals and two assists.

Key stat: Both teams put on an incredible shooting performance combining for 68-of-135 field goals at 50 per cent and an amazing 28-of-51 from three-point territory at 55 per cent.

By Chris Pike, Pagemasters

The Perth Wildcats hit back from their two-game losing run to beat the Townsville Crocodiles 102-87 in the first game at Perth Arena for 2014 on a night of the three-point bomb.

While the Wildcats comfortably won by 15 points, the game will be remembered for its incredible three-point shooting as Perth hit 16-of-27 from downtown and Townsville nailed 12-of-24.

Drake U'u didn’t miss from his four attempts for the Wildcats on his way to 13 points with Jermaine Beal hitting 4-of-7 in 20 points, James Ennis 3-of-6 in 29 points and Jesse Wagstaff 4-of-7 in 16 points.

Peter Crawford nailed 4-of-6 from long range in his 16 points for the Crocs, while Brian Conklin added 15 points and Josh Pace 10 to go with four rebounds and two assists.
"I was glad to see the extra pass being made and we got back to playing the way we were playing," Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson said.

"Guys making the extra pass led to guys getting wide open shots. Drake came on and really gave us that extra boost, Jesse was shooting well and we were playing team basketball. It's hard to guard five guys playing like that."
The Crocs came into Perth on a four-game losing run and having not won in the city either at Challenge Stadium or the Arena since the memorable playoff victory in 2009 led by John Rillie and Corey 'Homicide' Williams.
It was a hot crowd at the Perth Arena of 12,050 to welcome the Wildcats back for a first home game since December 6 and their team didn’t disappoint.
Perth added Wagstaff and Greg Hire to its starting line-up at the expense of Beal and Shawn Redhage. It seemed to work as well with Crawford's 10 points just about the only thing keeping the Crocs in the contest in the first quarter.

By half-time, Perth's lead expanded to 20 points and it grew to as far as 26 during the third quarter before the Crocs showed some good fight late in the period to close to within 16 heading into the last.

However, the Wildcats weren’t going to give them a sniff and cruised through the final quarter to run out 15-point with Ennis leaving the crowd with something to remember with a vicious two-handed dunk over the top of Conklin in the dying minutes.

The two teams now meet in a return clash in Townsville on Sunday.

"It's frustrating that there are passages of play where we do the things we set out to do," Crocs coach Shawn Dennis said.

"But then we also have passages of play where we group four or five mistakes together and the better teams are able to make us hurt. That's what the Wildcats did – they hit four threes in a row in the second quarter to blow the game out to 17, and it's (from) breakdowns."

Perth Wildcats 102 (Ennis 29, Beal 20, Wagstaff 16)
Townsville Crocodiles 87 (Crawford 16, Conklin 15)


Crowd: 12,050 at Perth Arena