A Tyler Harvey floater with 2.8 seconds remaining has extended the Illawarra Hawks’ undefeated start to the NBL season in a 97-96 double-overtime home win over the New Zealand Breakers.
Import Harvey, who finished with 26 points and eight rebounds, put his team on his back in the extra periods to secure a third straight win and consign the Breakers to their fourth straight loss.
The Breakers had a last chance to win Friday night’s clash through rookie Hugo Besson (20 points), who had kept his side in the contest late with his outside shooting.
But the French international slipped on the inbound play and the game clock expired.
Duop Reath was huge for the Hawks as his presence on the offensive boards gave the home side vital second-chance opportunities while he battled with Breakers big man Yannick Wetzell (25 points, 16 rebounds).
Reath finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds in 42 minutes of play and coach Brian Goorjian heaped high praise on his star duo.
“Our main guys made made great plays under pressure at the end of the game, and we came out with a very, very, very important win,” Goorjian said.
“(Harvey) was superb tonight at both ends of the floor.
“I thought we got a great game out of Duop, I thought (import) Justinian Jessup is up a level from what he was at last year.
“The signs are good – like I said, much better balance, it’s a more talented team than last year.”
After starting slow and being outscored 27-14 in the opening quarter, the Hawks bounced back to be down 41-39 at the main break.
After trading baskets through the third quarter, an upset looked on the cards when Wetzell put the Breakers up by one with 30 seconds on the clock.
Harvey’s three pointer put the Hawks up again in the dying seconds, before Will McDowell-White tied the game and Jessup’s game-winning attempt didn’t fall.
A neck-and-neck battle ensued in overtime with both teams out on their feet, but it was Harvey’s grit that willed the Hawks to victory.
Wetzell said he was disappointed but also heartened by his team’s effort.
“I’m very proud of what we put on the floor. But at the end of the day, we didn’t get the job done and that’s what’s important,” Wetzell said.
“We’ve got to find a way to put dubs on the board.
“So we’re gonna put this one by the wayside and focus on Melbourne on Sunday.”