7 Feb 2016

Hawks book semi-final spot

2:15 pm on 7 February 2016

The Illawarra Hawks booked their place in the NBL basketball semi-finals with a 104-97 overtime home win over Townsville Crocodiles on Saturday night.

Kirk Penney of the Hawks shoots during the ANBL. 2015.

Kirk Penney of the Hawks shoots during the ANBL. 2015. Photo: Getty Images

Illawarra's 16th win of the season assured them of a top-four finish, regardless of the results of the final round.

Fourth-placed Adelaide are now locked in a battle for the final playoff spot with the fifth-placed champions, the New Zealand Breakers, while the Hawks, Wildcats and Melbourne United have qualified for the post-season.

The Breakers have the chance to climb back into the top four on Sunday night when they host Cairns in Auckland.

After leading for most of the game, the Hawks fell behind late in the fourth quarter before three straight three-pointers by Cody Ellis, Kevin Lisch and Kirk Penney tied the game at 89-89 with 19.5 seconds remaining.

The Crocodiles had little to play for other than pride, but they patiently followed the game plan and went perilously close to springing a shock upset.

Townsville manhandled the Hawks in the paint, doubling their rebound total (46-23).

If it wasn't for their 15/31 return from three-point range, the Hawks would not have pulled off their lucky escape.

The Crocs built a four-point lead in the extra period before American guard Kevin Lisch's three-point play with 35.6 seconds remaining gave Illawarra a lead they never relinquished.

Lisch poured in a game-high 29 points, Kirk Penney had 28 in his first game back from injury, while centre AJ Ogilvy finished with 19.

Townsville were led by Nick Kay's 24 points and 15 rebounds, while guard Jordair Jett added 19.

The Hawks face an intriguing final-round clash with Adelaide next Friday, while the Crocs will be hellbent on wrapping up their 2015-16 campaign on a high note with home games against Cairns (Thursday) and Sydney (Saturday).