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Perth Wildcats’ finals streak ends after loss to South East Melbourne Phoenix

The most famous streak in Australian sport is over.

It took an overtime result but the Perth Wildcats have lost to South East Melbourne Phoenix 102-100 to finish in fifth place on the NBL ladder and miss the finals for the first time since 1986.

On a dramatic day at RAC Arena, Perth looked in control during the first half. The Phoenix were in early foul trouble and Perth capitalised which led to them having 15 free throws for the opening period.

That helped them to a three-point lead at quarter time and then they seized control during the second quarter.

The Wildcats twice broke clear to lead by nine points but couldn’t nail the next shot to break South East Melbourne’s hearts.

Bryce Cotton went to half-time with 14 points while Michael Frazier had 12. Frazier’s three-point shooting talent was on show with all of his points coming from the perimeter. Perth produced their second highest first half score (52 points) and could have led by more than the six-point advantage they took to the long break.

Perth again had the chance to burst clear early in the second half, but South East Melbourne refused to give in and suddenly the game changed.

Jesse Wagstaff feels the pinch.
Camera IconJesse Wagstaff feels the pinch. Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images

The Wildcats couldn’t contain Xavier Munford. He had 19 points in the first three quarters and ensured his team was in the contest when it mattered.

The visitors broke clear to lead by six points with just over three minutes remaining and the tension in the building was clear.

Cotton tied the scores with 22.8 seconds left on the clock and South East Melbourne had the shot to win the game and end the streak. But Munford’s shot failed to drop and the tension continued.

Michael Frazier was influential for Perth.
Camera IconMichael Frazier was influential for Perth. Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images

The lead changed multiple times during the overtime period but it was the visitors who prevailed, leaving the home crowd in shock.

“This is going to be a tough one for the Perth Wildcats,” NBl icon Andrew Gaze said.

“Opportunities were there for them. They played their hearts out but looked nervous down the stretch.”

Cotton finished with 28 points and eight assists while Frazier scored 22. Munford led the way for the Phoenix with 24 points and nine assists.

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