Wildcats claw back win in dominant final term

PERTH Wildcats always find a way, and the reigning back-to-back National Basketball League (NBL) premiers did it again on the road against a plucky Brisbane Bullets outfit at Nissan Arena last night. The Bullets led at the final break, but a 65-point final term had fans on the edge of their seats, with the Wildcats piling on 41 points – two thirds of their score from the first three quarters – in just one term to win by 12 points, 102-90.

The Wildcats did take control early with a 28-18 opening quarter to race out to a 10-point lead at the first break. The Bullets were not going to let them get away that easy though, answering with a 26-17 second term to reduce the deficit to just a point at the main break. A 22-16 third quarter saw Brisbane continue that momentum into the second half and lead by five at the final break, before Perth’s scoring bonanza lit up the game with a massive 41-24 term to see them run out victors and remain in contention for top spot on the NBL ladder.

Both teams had almost identical shooting percentages from the field, but the Wildcats were the better outside team, with more than half (51 per cent) of their triples going in, whilst the Bullets had a higher efficiency from inside the arc (48 to 42 per cent). The winners lead the rebounds (41-39), blocks (3-0), second chance points (18-16) and points from turnovers (11-9), of which the latter was fairly even given the Bullets had one extra turnover (as well as six extra personal fouls). The Bullets easily had the Wildcats’ measure in the paint, with 44 points to 30, as well as 24-20 assists and 6-5 steals. The contribution off the bench was also far greater with 30 points to 10.

It was a triple threat for the Wildcats, with Todd Blanchfield leading the way, dropping five of nine from long-range and 10 of 16 from the field overall, to finish with 31 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Bryce Cotton (24 points including four of nine from long-range, three rebounds and two assists) and Mitch Norton (24 points, eight rebounds and three assists) also had big nights out. John Mooney had the 11 points, five rebounds, five assists and two blocks, while Will Magnay made his debut against his former side, only putting up the two points in 15 minutes, but having four rebounds and two assists in the process. Jesse Wagstaff (five points, five rebounds and two assists) was impactful off the bench.

For the Bullets, Nathan Sobey was the standout shooter, putting up 24 points, five assists and two rebounds, while Lamar Patterson (10 points, nine rebounds and seven assists) and Matt Hodgson (10 points, nine rebounds and four assists) also looked impressive throughout the night. Anthony Drmic (11 points) hit double figures starting and playing 21 minutes, whilst Jason Cadee had 14 points, four assists and three rebounds in 24 minutes off the bench.

Perth Wildcats travel further north to take on Cairns Taipans on Monday, whilst the Brisbane Bullets get a longer break until Wednesday where they host the Wildcats back at Nissan Arena to try and seek revenge on their conquerors from tonight.

Picture credit: Jono Searle/Getty Images

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