The Perth Wildcats held off a desperate fourth-quarter comeback by the winless Townsville Crocodiles to win 68-63 in Townsville on Saturday night.
After six points by Crocs guard Peter Crawford brought his side within two late in the fourth quarter the home side had four opportunities to tie the game but turned the ball over each time.
In a game littered with momentum swings the Wildcats were led by forwards Jesse Wagstaff (15 points, nine rebounds) and Matthew Knight (13 points, 11 rebounds).
For the Crocs, point guard Gary Ervin (18 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists) provided one of his best performances of the season.
Wildcats coach Rob Beveridge showed genuine sympathy for the Crocs, who slumped to 0-10.
"Those guys are working so hard and you can just see the desperation and I really do feel for them," he said.
"From our perspective we knew it was going to be an absolute arm-wrestle, but the character our guys showed was pretty great."
Crocs coach Paul Woolpert was pleased his side was more active on the boards, only being out-rebounded 39-33.
"I thought we played with determination, intensity, focus and togetherness which we spoke about as a team," he said.
Led by Kevin Lisch, who scored 10 points in the first five minutes of the match, the Wildcats got on top of the hapless Crocs early and led by 12 at the first break.
The Wildcats pulled ahead to as much as 16 in the second period behind the strong interior presence of Knight.
But a steal by Crawford set up a Cedar lay-up seconds before the half-time buzzer to put the Crocs within nine.
The momentum swung in the Crocs' favour when Brad Robbins was called for a technical foul after committing an unsportsmanlike foul on Townsville captain Russell Hinder.
Three-pointers by guards Mitch Norton and Michael Cedar then put the home side within two, but Wagstaff answered with a triple of his own and the Wildcats went into last break up seven.
A Lisch three at the beginning of the fourth put Perth up by 10 and they looked to be running away with the game.
But Crawford put the Crocs to within two with a minute and a half left when he nailed a long-range three moments later.
The Crocs then let their opportunities slip, Hinder fumbling the ball out-of-bounds the next possession before a committing an off-the-ball foul the possession after.
The Crocs had another opportunity to tie the game, but Ervin crashed into some Wildcats defenders driving to the rim and couldn't get a shot off.
With Martin only making one of his two free throws with five seconds remaining the Crocs had one more opportunity, but Wildcat Shawn Redhage stole the ball off the inbounds and knocked down two free-throws to seal the game.
Crocs forward Jacob Holmes said he was sick of the negativity surrounding the Croc's losing streak but people needed to put it into perspective.
"We're getting talked about everyday about how we're not very good... and it hurts," he said.
"But it's not the worst thing in the world. We're not in the Gaza Strip, we're still at the Crocs club, there's not bombs hailing down around us, so just move on and enjoy what you're doing."
Perth Wildcats 68 (Wagstaff 15, Lisch 15, Knight 13)
Townsville Crocodiles 63 (Ervin 18, Blanchfield 11, Crawford 11)
Crowd: 3,244 at Townsville Entertainment Centre