IN the weekend’s National Basketball League (NBL)1 East Men’s action, the Newcastle Falcons were able to hold off the Illawarra Hawks and claim a thrilling win. The two sides went head-to-head at The Snakepit Stadium on Saturday night, in a matchup that meant quite a bit to both sides. With the standings reasonably close at the moment, the game offered the opportunity to make a pretty crucial move up the standings. It was difficult to pick a clear favourite in the matchup given either team’s similar record, and the game ended up showing why that was the case.
The two sides were essentially inseparable for much of the game, although it was very much a game of scoring runs. After Illawarra fought back from a slow start, the game went down to the wire, decided in the last 20 seconds. Jakob Dorricott was the man of the moment for the Falcons, producing a clutch three-pointer to put his side up by one with 17 seconds on the clock, a lead that Newcastle was able to ride home. The victors moved to third spot in the standings, while the Hawks found themselves down in sixth at the end of the round.
Illawarra Hawks (85) def. by Newcastle Falcons (86)
The Falcons showed their intent early on, jumping out to an early lead on the back of some potent offence. They were able to produce a bucket pretty frequently, but also match the intensity on the defensive end of the court. Illawarra was unable to get any easy looks for most of the term, and found itself trailing by seven points at the first change of play. However, the trend did not continue as the Hawks fought back in the second term, moving the ball well to pierce the Newcastle defence and finally get their offence rolling. Suddenly, the table had been turned as the Falcons could only get 11 points on the board for the entire quarter, and fell seven points behind by the time half time rolled around, with momentum swinging the other way completely.
Quarter number three was a much more even affair, as the defensive work from both sides dropped off a bit. There was a lot to like from a scoring perspective, with a number of buckets coming from both inside and outside the arc. However, with the period being so close, it meant the Falcons could not quite close the gap by the time the final break arrived, and had a fair bit to do in the fourth term. However, the deficit was erased in the first few minutes of the period, and it was game on with the result in the balance. The lead changed hands numerous times in the final few minutes of play in an exciting finish to the game. With both sides producing clutch buckets, Dorricott ended up having the final say with a massive three that ended up being the last basket of the contest. Illawarra could not conjure an answer and ended up falling by a single point.
For the Falcons, Ryan Beisty was the star of the show, getting involved with seemingly everything to finish with a whopping double-double of 29 points and 15 rebounds, with a healthy balance of inside and outside scoring. Matur Maluach was also able to play a crucial role in the win with a 19-point outing of his own. Kiwi Gardner did everything he could for the Hawks with a game-high 38 points, five rebounds and six assists in a heroic performance, although his side fell painfully short.