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R20 Report: Martin, Wollongong pip 36ers in a classic
Friday, February 28, 2014, 09:25:13 PM
Highlights: Wollongong Hawks v Adelaide 36ers
Highlights: Wollongong Hawks v Adelaide 36ers

Key moment: Gary Ervin had just given the Sixers the lead with a three-pointer with a tad under two minutes to play in the game, and he had been playing solid denying defence on Rotnei Clarke, but once the Hawks star got the ball he immediately swished it from deep for the go-ahead.

Key player: Rhys Martin was brilliant in all phases as he paced the Hawks to their fifth straight win from start to finish and produced a career-high 32 points.

Key stat: The Hawks would have cruised to victory if it wasn't for Adam Gibson and Gary Ervin pouring in 24 of Adelaide's 30 points in the fourth to turn the game on its head.

By Asa Schuster, Pagemasters

A pair of clutch threes by Rotnei Clarke lifted the Wollongong Hawks to a thrilling 91-89 comeback victory over the Adelaide 36ers at the WIN Entertainment Centre on Friday.

The Hawks saw their 15-point buffer dissolve during the fourth quarter and were saved when Clarke drilled a deep go-ahead three with just under two minutes remaining, and he then cemented the advantage with another dagger in the final minute.

''They made it really tough for us to run our offence tonight and I thought the guys really stuck at it,'' Hawks coach Gordie McLeod said.

''They forced us to make some big plays and obviously we made some big plays.''

Rhys Martin had led the initial charge with a career-high 32 points, before Clarke, who had been denied the ball for several minutes in the second-half broke free to finish with 21 points.

''He (Martin) was tough, every time they needed a big bucket he was the go-to guy and really led them and took the pressure off Rotnei,'' Sixers coach Joey Wright said.

Former Hawk Gary Ervin topped Adelaide with 21 points, while Adam Gibson (14 points) came alive in the fourth quarter, where he racked up eight points in five minutes to help put his team back in the hunt.

''We got back and got on top of them, we did a really good job of fighting back,'' Wright said.

''And then they just came down and made some plays, some big threes down the stretch and we hit some big shots, but they had one bigger shot then we did.

''It was a good game to be involved in, we competed and even took it to the next level, so there's definitely some learning to come out of this.''

Adelaide dominated the glass on the offensive end in the opening moments, creating six second-chance opportunities, before Daniel Johnson's rare triple gave the visitors a five-point advantage.

Wollongong stormed back to close the quarter up 24-19 when Martin and Clarke peeled off 10 unanswered points, highlighted by Martin's steal and breakaway lay-up sandwiched between long-range strikes from Clarke.

Fluent execution during the second stanza saw the teams lock the scores on eight occasions, until Martin created the final 46-41 edge for the Hawks by having hand in the final five points of the half with a driving three-point play and slick behind-the-head feed for Oscar Forman.

A quick 9-2 start to the third by Wollongong gave them a double-digit buffer, and they led by as much as 12, until Adelaide crept back within six on Rhys Carter's skip into the lane.

Behind Larry Davidson the Hawks surged again, he featured on an isolation play from the wing resulting in a crucial jumper to beat the shot-clock, before Martin closed the quarter with a put-back on his driving attempt to push Wollongong ahead 71-59.

The buffer briefly blew out to 15 on Martin's triple to open the fourth, but Gibson and Ervin struck back as the visitors pasted 15 straight points to tie the game with just over five minutes to play.

Wollongong Hawks 91 (Martin 32, Clarke 21, Coenraad 13)
Adelaide 36ers 89 (Ervin 21, Johnson 17, Gibson 14)


Crowd: 3123 at WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong