By Asa Schuster, Pagemasters
The Adelaide 36ers have played the role of spoiler, coming away with an amazing 91-90 comeback win in overtime against the Wollongong Hawks on Friday.
Adelaide rallied desperately from the three-point line to reel in an eight-point deficit with a minute remaining in the the fourth quarter, culminating with Anthony Petrie forcing the extra period with an incredible buzzer-beating three.
Stephen Weigh's free throw then sealed the win with 2.2 seconds left in the extra period, leaving Larry Davidson to send up a full-court prayer that only missed by inches.
Petrie (26 points and eight rebounds) and Daniel Johnson (18 points and five boards) led the way for Adelaide, while Adam Gibson (21 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists) poured in 19 points after half-time to spark the 36ers' resurgence.
''That win is resultant from the work that's gone on over the last eight weeks,'' 36ers coach Marty Clarke said.
Tim Coenraad exploded for a career-high 28 points (4-of-5 threes) and carried the Hawks during hot stretches in the second and third quarters.
Malcolm Grant had 15 points and looked to have the game wrapped up for the Hawks in the fourth after connecting on four clutch baskets in the final minutes.
''They made big plays and in the end we made some poor decisions,''
Hawks coach Gordie McLeod said.
''Hopefully we can learn from that, because we can't make that mistake again, the clock was in our favour and we had a couple of poor fouls at bad times.''
The Sixers got 10 early points from their frontline combo of Petrie and Johnson, who both showed off their handles on successful drives to the hoop for an initial 12-6 advantage.
Wollongong's bench mob quickly cleaned up the mess, as the inclusion of Grant and Auryn MacMillan helped spark a 9-2 close to the opening quarter to have the Hawks up 19-15.
Adelaide survived a sudden 10-point outburst from Coenraad in the first four minutes of the second term, falling behind by eight points, but they clawed back to lock the scores at 37-37 at the half on the backs of Johnson and Tom Daly.
The crowd was treated to an old-fashioned shootout in the third, when Adam Gibson and Coenraad exchanged five long-balls in quick succession, with Coenraad capping the flurry with a driving slam.
Grant soon got involved, hitting Coenraad for a no-look cross court alley-oop and following with a triple of his own, before Tyson Demos closed the period with a long-bomb to give the Hawks a 62-61 edge.
Wollongong's odd couple of Adris Deleon and Oscar Forman finally featured for the home team in the fourth with a pair of threes, but Petrie and Gibson were on the verge of a combined 17-point outburst to turn the game on its head.
''From our coaches to our players, this is one of the hardest working groups I've played with,'' Petrie said.
''Every single day no matter what was going on, everyone turned up and worked really hard and we'll continue to do that.''
Adelaide 36ers 91 (Petrie 26, Gibson 21, Johnson 18)
Wollongong Hawks 90 (Coenraad 28, Grant 15, Deleon 13)
Crowd: 3024 at WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong