The Illawarra Hawks have snapped a two-game losing skid with an 87-81 win over NBL champions Melbourne United in Wollongong.
Four-time Olympian David Andersen turned back the clock with a vintage shooting display to lead the Illawarra Hawks to Thursday night’s 87-81 upset of NBL titleholders Melbourne United at WIN Entertainment Centre.
Still playing at 39 after several seasons in Europe and two in the NBA, Andersen poured in a season-high 18 points, as the Hawks boosted their record to 3-4.
American import Brian Conklin added 15 points and Tim Coenraad finished with 14.
Chris McCarron and Casper Ware led Melbourne with 18 points each, while Josh Boone had 17.
United’s record stands at 5-3 heading into Sunday’s home game against Cairns.
Despite the absence of star guard Chris Goulding (knee injury), the visitors confidently jumped out to 15-11 lead before the Hawks closed with a 15-4 surge to be ahead 25-20 at quarter-time.
Coenraad had the hot hand with nine points, while DJ Kennedy paced Melbourne with seven.
The Hawks controlled the opening minutes of the second period, extending the margin to 11.
But just when they were on track to build a big double-digit halftime lead, Melbourne raised the bar, cutting the deficit to four.
Illawarra regained the momentum to be ahead 51-42 at halftime, aided by a technical foul called on Melbourne coach Dean Vickerman late in the quarter.
Illawarra continued to out-play their star-studded opponents, taking a 72-59 lead into the final period and answering every challenge down the stretch.
The Hawks back up on Sunday with another home game against Perth.
Illawarra’s win avenged two previous losses to Melbourne this season.
“They came out with a lot of energy and intent and we didn’t match it with them the whole first half,” Vickerman said.
“We turned it around and we still had some decent looks to win the game but they deserved that one.
Vickerman expects Goulding to play on Sunday.
Illawarra coach Rob Beveridge was proud of his team’s performance after two straight losses.
“There’s been a bit of hate from our own fans which is pretty disappointing,” Beveridge said.
“We had to prove to ourselves that we can compete with any team in the league and we showed that tonight.
“Dave turned back the clock and was absolutely outstanding. His talk, his leadership – what a fabulous performance from a bloke who’s 38. He didn’t look 38 tonight.”