Worthington, Tigers sink Wildcats at the buzzer

CHRIS ROBINSON
Last updated 07:27 25/01/2014

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Mark Worthington drained a clutch three-pointer as time expired to hand Melbourne a spectacular 83-80 upset win over the Perth Wildcats at Perth Arena.

With overtime looming, Worthington swished the triple from near the top of the arc to break a late-game deadlock and inflict the Cats' first home loss of the season.

The WA product finished with a game-high 24 points and 10 boards and was ably supported by former Wildcat Chris Goulding (23 points).

Tom Jervis produced a career-high 21 points but it wasn't enough for Perth, who remain top of the NBL table despite slumping to a 15-4 record.

James Ennis (19 points, 11 rebounds) hit a pair of free-throws with 2:45 remaining to give the Cats their first lead of the second half, before a monster block by Jesse Wagstaff on Scott Morrison brought the crowd to its feet.

When Shawn Redhage drained a three, Perth was up by four with less than two minutes to play and had all the momentum.

But Melbourne simply refused to lie down. Worthington nailed a tough fade-away jumper and then Goulding hit a three, before Damian Martin tied things up with a lay-in at the other end.

Though the final play was drawn up for Goulding, a double-team forced an extra pass to Worthington, who calmly slotted the triple to seal the contest and spark wild celebrations for the visitors.

"That's a pretty special one for me, I'd say," Worthington said of his game-winner.

"Chris (Anstey) drew up a pretty good play for Chris Goulding, and as we walked out of the timeout, I said 'If they're going to double you, I'm going to knock down the shot'. Luckily, that all worked out."

Worthington, who hails from the WA town of Bunbury, said he felt good once the shot left his hand despite being just 1-of-4 from long range at that point.

Leading 42-39 at the half, the visitors showed no signs of jitters as they continued to come up with efficient plays at the offensive end.

When Mustapha Farrakhan hit a near-impossible contested lay-up over chase-down block specialist Martin, the lead had stretched to eight points in the shadows of three-quarter time.

But a 7-0 run in the final 90 seconds of the term - capped by another Ennis buzzer-beater under the basket - brought the deficit back to just one at the final change.

Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson thought his team "played pretty poorly" and "wasn't the team that played last week".

"We didn't have the intensity required, and then we tried to lift that up, but we certainly didn't have the intensity required for 40 minutes," he said.

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- AAP

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