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Breakers hold on to beat Hawks 72-71

22:24 Thu Jan 17 2013
AAP
The New Zealand Breakers held off a persistent Wollongong side to sneak home with a 72-71 win (Getty)
The New Zealand Breakers held off a persistent Wollongong side to sneak home with a 72-71 win (Getty)

The New Zealand Breakers held off a persistent Wollongong side to sneak home with a 72-71 win that consolidates their lead at the top of the Australian National Basketball League.

The injury-ravaged Hawks had the chance to send the match into overtime in Auckland on Thursday night, when their star performer, Adris Deleon, was fouled with 3.8 seconds to go.

After making no mistake with the first free throw, he couldn't get the second to drop, much to his great frustration, and the Breakers were able to kill the remaining time.

Deleon ended with 34 points, shooting at 54 per cent from the floor and landing three of his seven attempts from outside the arc.

The Breakers' victory was their sixth win in succession and it took their record for the season to 14-3.

The Hawks have now lost seven of their last eight matches, including the last five in a row, although at 8-8 they remain fourth on the table.

For the second successive match, Tom Abercrombie led the Breakers' scorers, getting 15 points to suggest that he is turning the corner from his slow first half of the campaign after off-season ankle surgery.

The two sides also played out a nail-biter two rounds ago, with the Breakers winning on the road by two points.

In both contests, the defending champions' superiority in rebounding was a key feature.

This time around, they dominated the Hawks on the offensive boards 20-5.

Wollongong had gone into the match at the North Shore Events Centre without starting guards Rhys Martin and Lance Hurdle, who both suffered serious knee injuries against Cairns last Friday night.

They did well to control the tempo in the first half, and eight straight points on either side of half-time had them up 42-30.

The Breakers came back to tie the match at three-quarter time and a big start to final period had them six points up and seemingly heading for victory, but the Hawks, led by Deleon, refused to go away.