Hawks down lacklustre Taipans
Wollongong maintained their unbeaten run at home with a spirited 73-59 NBL comeback victory over Cairns on Saturday.
The Hawks erased a 16-point deficit in the third quarter behind the magnificent play of Adris Deleon, who poured in 19 of his 23 points during a whirlwind second half.
Alex Loughton had 14 points for Cairns, who could only muster seven points in the final quarter to stand at 3-5 on the season.
Rhys Martin fuelled the Hawks early, instantly turning defence into offence with a crafty block on Jamar Wilson's three-point attempt, before racing down the court for an easy lay-up.
Wollongong claimed the opening quarter 17-12, taking advantage of the Taipans slow start where they shot just 4-of-21 from the field.
Cairns heated up in the second, chipping away through baskets by Shane Edwards and Clint Steindl, while the Hawks replied with three-pointers by Oscar Forman, who finished with 15 points and nine rebounds, and Lance Hurdle.
The Taipans eventually glued together a 10-0 run to close the half up 33-29, Edwards capping the spurt with a breakaway dunk and full-court sprint for a buzzer-beating lay-up.
Consecutive threes by Loughton and Aaron Grabau opened up a sudden 12-point buffer for Cairns early in the third.
The Taipans led by as much as 16, but saw their buffer quickly dissolve when Deleon spearheaded a late 14-0 run, leaving Cairns hanging onto a slim 52-49 edge with ten minutes to play.
Martin kick-started a perfect final quarter for Wollongong with consecutive baskets, while Deleon pounced on a loose ball to set up a Larry Davidson alley-oop that had the crowd at fever pitch.
Dave Gruber then featured in two crucial broken plays to pave the way for Deleon to close out the win with seven late points.