21 Jan 2017

Breakers keep fighting

6:33 am on 21 January 2017

The New Zealand Breakers remain in the Australian National Basketball League finals hunt with their third straight win on Friday night in Wollongong, coming from behind to beat the Illawarra Hawks 95-86.

Kevin Dillard

Kevin Dillard Photo: Photosport

Leading by two at half-time, the Hawks inexplicably lost their way in the third quarter when they made just 4/17 shots.

The Breakers trailed by 13 in the second period before stunning the Hawks with a second-half lockdown to claim their 11th win and join Sydney in fourth spot.

Illawarra (12-11) remain second on the ladder but blew a perfect chance to strengthen their position.

American import Kevin Dillard starred for New Zealand with a game-high 26 points, Kirk Penney tormented his former team with 23, while Rob Loe and Alex Pledger combined for 23.

AJ Ogilvy led the Hawks with 16 and Rotnei Clarke finished with 14.

After racking up 52 points on 17/36 shooting in the first half, Illawarra were a dismal 10/33 in the second half.

The Hawks held an early 8-3 lead before the Breakers worked their way into the contest with seven unanswered points.

Penney worked his magic off the screen for a quick nine points, as the lead changed hands 11 times over the next five minutes.

Clarke came out swinging off the bench, draining his first three and dishing to Tim Coenraad on the break for another triple, helping the Hawks close with a 12-2 run for a 31-23 quarter-time lead.

Danger signs loomed for the desperate Breakers when the margin swelled to 13, but they frustrated the Hawks, fighting back to within six with four minutes left in the half.

Dillard silenced the home crowd when he boldly splashed back to back triples to tie the game at 48-all with a minute remaining in the half, before the Hawks managed to forge ahead 52-50 at half-time.