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NBL's Hawks beat Melbourne United by nine

AAP logoAAP 6/11/2016 By Tim Keeble

Unsung forward Nick Kay has risen to the occasion to lead the Illawarra Hawks to an 82-73 NBL win over Melbourne United at WIN Entertainment Centre.Kay tallied 15 points and five rebounds in the Sunday victory, while guards Mitch Norton and Rotnei Clarke combined for 27 points.The only issue for the Hawks was a knee injury suffered by Marvelle Harris in the game's final minute.Australian Boomers centre David Anderson led Melbourne United with 23 points and eight rebounds.Melbourne were without injured stars Chris Goulding and Todd Blanchfield.The Hawks led by 11 at halftime before Melbourne cut the margin to three with a quarter to play.Illawarra held their nerve down the stretch to send Melbourne crashing to a fourth straight loss.The Hawks started strongly and were up by seven late in the opening period before Melbourne backup guard Kyle Adnam sparked his team into action and cut the home team's lead to 21-20 at quarter-time.The Hawks tightened the defensive screws, holding the visitors to just two points over the first six minutes of the second period.Frustrations boiled over for Melbourne, as American guard Cedric Jackson and coach Dean Demopolous each picked up a technical foul.The Hawks were struggling for offensive efficiency but used tough defence to build a 41-30 halftime lead.Melbourne silenced the home crowd with a spirited third quarter revival before Illawarra regained control in the final period.

Illawarra coach Rob Beveridge said his side hung tough throughout the contest."This was an enormous character win for us," Beveridge said."We know our backs are against the wall and there's been a lot of external pressure, so that's a good tough effort."We got smashed on the boards and considering how many extra possessions we gave them it was a pretty gutsy effort."Marvelle will be okay. It's not as bad as we first thought."Melbourne coach Dean Demopolous said the Hawks deserved their win."Give Illawarra credit for the way they got to the foul line tonight with their aggression," Demopolous said."We have to get better at what we're doing. The effort is always there but not always the efficiency and execution."

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