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Tapians down Hawks to stay alive in NBL

NZN 22/01/2017 Josh Bristow

The Cairns Taipans have kept their NBL season alive, narrowly avoiding another fourth-quarter capitulation in a 85-79 win over the second-placed Illawarra Hawks.

The six-point win at the Cairns Convention Centre on Sunday gives the Taipans three victories from as many games against the Hawks this season - and leaves them just two wins from third-placed Perth.

But once again Cairns made it difficult for themselves, allowing a 21-point third quarter lead to evaporate to as little as two in the final stages.

"At the end of the day you've got to find a way, and the guys found a way," Cairns coach Aaron Fearne said.

Taipans point guard Travis Trice was influential, helping his team out to their commanding lead and finishing with 16 points and three assists.

But Illawarra star Rotnei Clarke woke from his opening-half slumber to score seven points in succession midway through the third quarter after failing to post a score in the first two quarters.

Clarke combined well with big men Nick Kay and AJ Ogilvy, who scored 20 and 14 points respectively, as the Hawks rattled the Snakes late.

But Cairns captain Cameron Gliddon (18 points) steadied the home side and ensured there was no repeat of their heartbreaking overtime loss to Perth two days prior.

"I don't think you know how difficult that was for the guys today, really proud of the guys mentally and physically," Fearne said.

Illawarra coach Rob Beveridge put the blame for the Hawks second consecutive loss firmly on himself.

"There's a thing about our group we are consistently inconsistent," he said.

Taipans' veteran Mark Worthington announced he will retire from basketball at the end of the season, after 12 years in the NBL.

Up next for Cairns is a trip to New Zealand to take on the Breakers on Thursday and the Hawks will face off against pacesetters Adelaide on Saturday.

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