THE Perth Wildcats defeated Melbourne United 72-69 to end its road drought and extend its season record to four wins and one loss.
The victory was the Wildcats’ fourth straight and took them to the top of the NBL standings.
Without Greg Hire and with Jarrod Kenny exiting with a groin injury early in the game, the defending champions had their backs to the wall.
Matt Knight was outstanding with 14 points and nine rebounds, while Casey Prather had a game-high scoring output for the third game in a row; this time with 16 points.
With the Wildcats depleted in the point guard position, Damian Martin played big minutes and delivered with seven points, 13 rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Without Chris Goulding, Melbourne’s top scorer was Majok Majok, who did the majority of his damage in the first half.
The Wildcats had a strong output from the bench yesterday, including two threes in a minute from Dexter Kernich-Drew! pic.twitter.com/00YsiYJckS
— Perth Wildcats (@PerthWildcats) October 24, 2016
The Wildcats struggled offensively in the first half, but their defensive intensity was good enough to keep them to within four points at he interval.
So far this season, third quarters have seen the Wildcats struggle but it was a different story, with the visitors closing out the term on an eight-point run.
The scoring stretch continued into the final quarter as the advantage grew into double-figures.
📽 Watch the highlights from our win in Melbourne this afternoon. https://t.co/S4NcywkwoL
— Perth Wildcats (@PerthWildcats) October 23, 2016
A late fightback from the home team had local fans on the edge of their seats, but a Cedric Jackson air-ball at the buzzer saw time expire and the Wildcats pick up a crucial road victory.
“It was a very tough win, these guys come out here and play unbelievable. Kudos to those guys, they have an amazing fan base behind them. I’m glad we came out winners,” Prather said.
“It’s all about us, it’s all about what we need to do to get better. We came out here and stuck to our game plan and got the win.”
The Wildcats return to Perth on Sunday night and will begin preparations for another road trip, to Wollongong for a clash with the Illawarra Hawks on Friday night.