The Tasmania JackJumpers are back on the NBL winner’s list after snapping a two-game losing sequence with a comprehensive 87-60 home victory over the Illawarra Hawks.
The JackJumpers trailed early in Thursday night’s contest at MyState Bank Arena but responded with large scoring runs in the second and third quarters to set up their ninth win of the season.
The hosts fell behind early thanks to a strong start from Hawks centre Sam Froling but Jack McVeigh and Milton Doyle led a 29-14 second-quarter charge that included a run of 14 consecutive points to put the JackJumpers ahead by nine at halftime.
Tasmania then put the result beyond doubt by piling on 16 unanswered points in the third quarter, McVeigh (15 points) the best of five JackJumpers to finish the match in double figures.
Import Milton Doyle told ESPN that his side had little trouble getting up for their matchup against the league’s bottom-ranked team after the 27-point win.
“I don’t think it’s hard at all for us. It’s our identity to play hard, no matter who we are playing against so just staying focused and lock in against whoever,” Doyle said as Tasmania consolidated sixth spot on the ladder.
Doyle finished with 14 points and eight rebounds but also made his presence felt at the defensive end, combining with Josh Magette to record eight of Tasmania’s 14 steals.
“I try, I have no choice with coach Scott (Roth) but yeah, just trying to pick up a little pressure and make it easy on our bigs,” Doyle said about his defence after the JackJumpers forced the Hawks into committing 20 turnovers for the game.
Illawarra’s quest for a morale-boosting third win of the season was hampered by the loss of import duo Tyler Harvey and Michael Frazier II to illness.
But after Will Magnay helped the home side snatch an early 10-2 lead, Froling lifted the Hawks as they produced a 13-0 run to set up a 21-15 buffer after one quarter.
Tasmania’s offence went cold in the opening period, going 0-of-6 from long distance, but Isaac White and McVeigh sank three-pointers as part of the JackJumpers’ 14-0 run in the second quarter to build a 44-35 advantage.
The Hawks showed signs of life in the third period, Mangok Mathiang cutting Tasmania’s lead to 48-42, but the home side played brilliant team basketball with six individual players contributing to a burst of 16 straight points.
Ahead 69-48 after three quarters, the JackJumpers completed the task in the final term with late baskets to Deng Deng allowing the Hawks to avoid recording their lowest score of the season as they slumped to their fifth loss on the trot.