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United edge Cairns in NBL cliffhanger=2

NZN 29/12/2016 Josh Bristow

Melbourne United beat Cairns Taipans 79-78 in their NBL clash at the Cairns Convention Centre on Thursday, surviving a thrilling final quarter in which the lead changed 11 times.

Melbourne were pinged for taking too long to inbound the ball when they were up by one point with 20 seconds left to play.

Cairns point guard Travis Trice made a tough lay-up to get the home side back in front before United counterpart Casper Ware hit a jumper to retake the lead with 3.8 seconds remaining.

Taipans rookie Mitch McCarron was left to hit the game-winning shot, but the 23 year old's three-point attempt rolled around the rim before popping out.

Earlier on, the Taipans worked their way to an eight-point lead in the first quarter and extended their advantage in the second half.

Cairns led by as much as 14 before they were rocked by talismanic centre Nate Jawai's fourth foul.

Without the big man's presence for much of the second half the Snakes began to stutter and took some poor shots down the stretch.

United's Ware scored a game-high 24 points and was well supported by Chris Goulding who added 16.

Trice was Cairns' leading scorer with 15 and Jawai was their next highest contributor with 12 points.

Melbourne coach Dean Demopoulos described the result as "a tough, hard-fought win".

"Cairns is tough to play anywhere, they would be tough to play on the playground," Demopoulos said.

"Anytime you beat a team like that it gives you tremendous confidence."

Cairns coach Aaron Fearne said basic errors were costly in his team's fourth home loss of the season.

"We lost our way, we stopped moving the ball; those attention to detail things," he said.

"We'll just have to flush this result and refocus on Brisbane on Saturday."

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