The Perth Wildcats stormed back to the top of the NBL ladder for the first time since round four with a 91-85 overtime win over the Adelaide 36ers at Adelaide Arena today.
Long regarded as the Wildcats’ bogey team, the Sixers had won eight of the last 11 meetings between the two sides, including both home and away games this season.
And when they held an 11-point lead at three-quarter time, it appeared the Sixers were going to inflict yet another defeat on their traditional rivals.
But the Wildcats, led by inspirational co-captain Shawn Redhage (20 points) and American imports Kevin Lisch and Mike Dunigan, fought back to send the game to overtime.
It was then that Lisch really came to the fore, nailing a huge three-pointer under pressure to give the Wildcats the upper hand early in the extra period.
The reigning league MVP played a key role carrying the ball in overtime and finished with 18 points, while Dunigan had 16 points and 13 rebounds in just his second NBL game.
The gutsy performance came on the back of Friday’s hard-fought victory over Wollongong and extended the Wildcats’ winning streak to five.
“That was a tough game,” Lisch said.
“It was kind of a slug-fest and it felt like we were running through mud, but we stuck with it, hit some shots and kept our composure at the end.
“There were a lot of people fouling out everywhere and fortunately in overtime we were able to hit some shots.
“Credit to them (Adelaide), they played well, but it was good to get that win.”
The Wildcats trailed by 12 points in the second quarter and worked hard early in the third to trim the margin to just one, but Adelaide steadied to head into the final period leading 62-51.
The Wildcats fought back again, hitting the front briefly on the back of a 15-2 run to start the final quarter.
Adelaide led by six points with less than a minute to play before Greg Hire and Lisch nailed consecutive three-pointers to tie the game and send it to overtime.
Before Hire’s long-range basket, the Wildcats had made just two of 20 three-point attempts.
But they executed when it counted most.
It was the first time a Wildcats game had gone to overtime this season and first since game one of last season’s grand final series against New Zealand.
WA product Daniel Johnson was again a thorn in the side of his hometown team, scoring a game-high 23 points for Adelaide.
Anthony Petrie (14 points) and Adam Gibson (13) were important contributors for the home side before fouling out of the game.