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The Wollongong Roller Hawks have split their two home games against the Perth Wheelcats to maintain equal 3rd place on the NWBL ladder with a 4-2 win/loss record.



The Wheelcats narrowly held out the Roller Hawks on Saturday, winning 66-64 before the Roller Hawks won 88-81 on Sunday.


The weekend's result is a disappointing one for the Roller Hawks who needed to win both games to take the series against Perth, having lost the first match between the two sides in Round 1.


Saturday's game saw tempers flare in the second half as the Roller Hawks became increasingly frustrated at the lack of calls from the referees resulting in several technical fouls including one against coach Jim Williams.


The Roller Hawks had to finish the game without captain Brett Stibners who fouled out with 7:22 left in the 4th quarter with Tim Markcrow also fouling out late in the game.


With Stibners on the sideline, Roller Hawks big man Andrew Tarrant battled hard to keep his team in the contest grabbing 5 of his 12 rebounds in the final quarter but he too earned the attention of the referees by getting a technical foul with 1:02 left in the game.  


“A couple of bad decisions by myself at the start of the game made it difficult to play the way I need to, to help out the team,” said Stibners.


“And a couple of calls from the referee saw me sitting on the sideline but the guys who came in, especially Brad (Fisher) and Tim (Markcrow) played very well. We were unlucky that we didn’t win in the end.”


The Wheelcats got off to a rapid start leading by as many as 12 midway through the first quarter. A 2 point shot from Brad Fisher with 2:46 left in the quarter broke a scoring drought by the Roller Hawks which sparked a run that closed the gap to 8 by quarter time.


The Roller Hawks fought back in the second quarter to level the scores at 35-all at halftime but the home side continually had trouble trying to contain Perth captain Shaun Norris who finished the game with 38 points and 19 rebounds.  Norris was well supported by Kim Robbins who had 22 points on 10 of 15 shooting.


Sunday saw a more free flowing game with the Roller Hawks' 88 points the highest total for any team this season. Wollongong shot the ball at 59% from the field with Brett Stibners (33 points) well supported by Nick Taylor (20 points, 6 assists), Luke Pople (15 points on 7/9 shooting) and Andrew Tarrant (11 points, 10 rebounds).


Norris continued to be a force for the Wheelcats scoring a triple double with 52 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists. Kim Robbins (15 points) and Amber Merritt (14 points) were efficient, combining for 13 from 17 shooting but were the only other Perth players to trouble the scorers.


Roller Hawks point guard Luke Pople praised the teamwork of his side to combat Norris.


“Maintaining Shaun Norris is tough especially when he drops 50 on us but we had a great team performance and our players off the bench contributed well” said Pople.


“It was a back and forth game the whole way through up until the last 2 or 3 minutes. Norris made some big shots down the stretch but we we were able to hit our free throws and close it out.”


Wollongong have another bye in Round 4. Their next games are in Round 5 when they travel to Western Australia to meet the team they currently share third place with, the Red Dust Heelers.