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Taipans stop rot with NBL win over Hawks

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 17/12/2016 Josh Bristow

The Cairns Taipans have bounced back into form with a 99-82 win against the Illawarra Hawks.

Sitting last on the NBL ladder, the Taipans on Saturday were desperate to avoid a third consecutive loss at the Snakepit, and this time it was finally their turn to be on the right end of a second-half comeback.

Cairns began the match with a Nate Jawai alley-oop courtesy of a Travis Trice assist, but it was the Hawks who would dominate the first half.

Illawarra import Rotnei Clarke continued his blistering form from the bench, gunning down an early 10-point Taipan lead to put the visitors in front by eight at the main break.

The former MVP was in everything, recording 21 points that included a tough fade-away and-one while also producing several defensive stops on Cairns point guard Trice.

But the prospect of their third consecutive home-court defeat spurred the Taipans in the second half, and Trice in particular rediscovered his groove to hit a deep, buzzer-beating three to leave Cairns ahead by eight points at the end of the third quarter.

From there, Snakes veteran Alex Loughton hit a couple of buckets to kill the contest, and Trice's jumper became automatic on his way to 22 points, five assists and two blocks.

The Illawarra Hawks will play the Bullets in Brisbane on Monday, and Cairns will have a break over Christmas before returning to action against Melbourne on December 29.

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