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Breakers beat Melbourne, stay alive in NBL

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 10/02/2017 Angelo Risso
Kirk Penney was solid with 15 points. © AAP Image Kirk Penney was solid with 15 points.

The Breakers have kept their slim Australian NBL playoff hopes alive with an 88-70 final-round victory over Melbourne United in Auckland.

Lurking in seventh as round 28 began, the Breakers needed a win, as well as other results to go their way, to make their sixth playoff series in seven years.

And the Auckland-based side did all they could on Friday night at the North Shore Events Centre, outgunning a wasteful United from behind the three-point line to secure victory.

United managed to score barely 20 per cent of all attempts from distance, while the Breakers managed a more-respectable 36 per cent.

Breakers young gun Finn Delaney was a standout, notching 13 points and nine rebounds at small forward, while stalwart Kirk Penney was solid with 15 points.

The 36-year-old Penney's haul makes him the first Breaker in history to score 3000 points in the ANBL.

The result was all the more impressive given the late withdrawal and hospitalisation of skipper Mika Vukona with a knee infection.

Melbourne United will need to defeat Perth in their final-round match to keep themselves in finals contention.

Nothing separated the sides in the first two quarters, as both struggled to find their range from around the court or break into a streak.

Breakers centre Alex Pledger excited with 12 points across the half, including one run of six straight points, while Casper Ware shone for the visitors with 11.

But Penney and new import Kevin Dillard went cold from behind the three-point line early on, nailing just one apiece.

The hosts edged ahead by the end of the first quarter, up 21-18, before United pegged them back with a Chris Goulding halftime buzzer-beater to level at 38-38.

Field goals late in the third quarter to Finn Delaney, Dillard and Paul Carter, as well as two Penney free throws, gave the Breakers breathing room heading into the final stretch.

With the scores at 58-53 at the end of the third, Carter drained his third three-pointer of the night with a jump shot before Delaney turned on the magic with three dunks.

United kept themselves in the match, hanging within striking distance as the seconds ticked away, but fell away late in the fourth quarter.

Delaney, in just his first year as a fully contracted player, notched a pair of free throws and point guard Shea Ili drained two threes.

The Breakers closed out the contest through Dillard, Penney and Rob Lowe.

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