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Hawks too strong for Bullets in NBL

NZN 10/12/2016 Matt Harris

The Illawarra Hawks have returned to the NBL's winners' circle after holding off the Bullets 98-88 in a pulsating contest on Saturday night in Brisbane.

The Hawks led at every change at the Brisbane Convention Centre, consolidating second place on the ladder and consigning the Bullets to their third loss in four games.

Tim Coenraad led the scoring for Illawarra with 24 points and three assists, while centre Tom Jervis stood tall for Brisbane with 18 points and seven rebounds.

The 10-point loss marks three-straight home defeats for the Bullets who have hit a form slump in recent weeks.

There was little separating the NBL's second and third-placed teams during the opening quarter, with both sides playing high-octane basketball, although it was the Hawks who took a four-point lead into the first break.

Illawarra skipped out to a 12-point lead early in the second before Brisbane could muster a reply but, when the Bullets clicked into gear, they went on a 23-12 run to end the half only down by one.

The start of the second half mirrored the first as both sides traded baskets in end-to-end action with the Hawks edging the Bullets by one point in the third quarter to lead by two heading into the final stretch.

Brisbane lost Cameron Bairstow early in the fourth with the former NBA forward fouled out of the contest only seconds into the quarter.

An 8-2 run favouring the Hawks to begin the final term didn't help the Bullets' cause, but they kept within touching distance inside the dying minutes.

The points started to dry up as the clock ticked down with the ferocity of the encounter impacting on accurate shooting.

Leading by 10 with less than two minutes remaining, the game was Illawarra's to take and they didn't disappoint as they held on to record their eighth win of the season.

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