The Perth Wildcats continued their hot start to the new NBL season with a massive 82-58 win over Townsville today.
The WA side thumped reigning champions New Zealand in round one and backed it up with another strong showing after half-time at the Townsville Entertainment Centre.
Coach Rob Beveridge led the Wildcats into battle for the 100th time, becoming just the fourth coach in club history to reach the milestone, and celebrated by extending his dominance over the Crocs.
Beveridge boasts a 62-38 record overall, including 11 wins from 13 games against Townsville.
Remarkably, the last five of those wins have come by an average of 24 points.
Kevin Lisch also reached a personal milestone, making his 100th appearance for the Wildcats since signing from St Louis University three years ago.
He capped the achievement with a game-high 20 points to steer the Wildcats to victory.
Shawn Redhage added 18 points, while Jesse Wagstaff came off the bench to star with 11 points and nine rebounds.
The win came despite the Wildcats coughing up a massive 13 turnovers in the first half and was based around brilliant performances at both ends of the court after the main break.
Townsville were restricted to just 20 points in the second half as the Wildcats took total control of the contest.
“In the first half they played well and we didn’t play our style of basketball,” said Lisch, who had a career-worst six turnovers.
“I was out there just throwing the ball all over the court and I’ve got to take care of that.
“It’s kind of getting on my nerves a little bit, but we did some good things and we hung in there.”
New imports Gary Ervin and Larry Abney bolstered Townsville’s stocks, but tough forward Jacob Holmes was a late withdrawal.
Holmes’ strength would have been more than handy for the Crocs, who were smashed 42-30 in the rebound count.
Ervin and Abney answered late calls from coach Paul Woolpert to replace Curtis Withers and Jason Forte, who were sensationally sacked on the eve of the season.
Ervin, the 2011 NBL MVP winner with Wollongong, scored eight points in a tough battle with opposite number Damian Martin.
Michael Cedar (11 points) was the only Crocs player to reach double figures.
WILDCATS 82 (Lisch 20, Redhage 18, Wagstaff 11)
CROCODILES 58 (M Cedar 11, Allen 9, Blanchfield 9)
MVP Jesse Wagstaff will one day take over Shawn Redhage’s role in the starting line-up, but for now he has to be content with coming off the bench. He did it well against the Crocs, scoring 11 points to go with nine rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block.
BEFORE THE TIP
New imports Gary Ervin and Larry Abney were cleared to play for the Crocs, but Jacob Holmes was a late withdrawal. Perry Lakes product Ben Purser again filled in for injured Wildcats co-captain Brad Robbins (wrist).
Star guard Kevin Lisch and coach Rob Beveridge both celebrated their 100th games with the Wildcats. The win gave Beveridge a 62-38 record with the club since he took over from Conner Henry in 2009. Lisch celebrated his milestone with a game-high 20 points.
The Wildcats had a whopping 13 turnovers in a sloppy first-half showing but cleaned up their act after the break, conceding just another six turnovers for the game. Lisch was the worst offender with six – the equal-worst tally of his career.
Three consecutive three-pointers from Redhage (two) and Everard Bartlett early in the final term pushed the Wildcats’ lead out to 14 points with 8:24 to play. The Crocs needed a miracle from there.
The Wildcats hit the road again for another winnable game against winless Melbourne, while Townsville face a tough Friday-Sunday road double against New Zealand and Wollongong.