Perth Wildcats were outclassed by a better prepared Wollongong Hawks outfit in the top of the table NBL clash at WIN Entertainment Centre on Saturday night.
Backing up just two days after beating title favourites New Zealand in Auckland, the Wildcats slumped to a 109-84 defeat at the hands of the Hawks, who returned to the league's summit with a 9-5 record.
The Wildcats were hampered by poor shooting throughout the night, going at 40 per cent from the field opposed to the Hawks' brilliant 58 per cent.
Promising young Wildcats forward Stephen Weigh landed just one of his seven field attempts and finished with four points, while Martin Cattalini, the hero in Auckland on Thursday, saw his hot hand go cold with a 2-of-8 performance.
Jesse Wagstaff failed to nail any of his seven attempts from the field but added seven points from the free-throw line.
Perth coach Rob Beveridge said his team had focused most of its energy on the New Zealand game, which paid off in Auckland but proved to be to their detriment against the Hawks.
“There’s no doubt that travel is part of it but you don’t like to use that as an excuse," Beveridge said.
“They had a week to prepare for us and our preparation time wasn’t great.
“Whenever you’re on the road for a few games you’ve got to give everything for that first game and try and win that, because if you lose that first game you’re done from a confidence perspective.”
Cameron Tragardh top-scored with 23 points for Wollongong, who were well served again by reigning Player of the Week award winner Tywain McKee.
The rookie American guard averaged more than 20 points in two previous outings against the Wildcats and continued to torment the WA side, adding another 20 points and six assists to play a key role in the Hawks' win.
Veteran Hawks guard Mat Campbell scored 13 points in his 450th NBL game.
“McKee’s probably the best player in the league and there’s a ‘wow’ factor to him,” Beveridge said.
“We tried different things – we switched, we trapped, we zoned and he had an answer for everything.”
Perth centre Luke Schenscher produced the goods with a team-high 22 points and 11 rebounds, his second double-double in a week.
However, the Perth offence lacked its usual punch with Schenscher and US import Kevin Lisch (19 points) the only Wildcats to reach double figures on a disappointing night.
Wollongong outscored their opponents by nine points in each of the first two quarters and extended their advantage to 25 points by three-quarter time before cruising to victory in the final term.
Perth (9-6) have a chance to rebound at home next week when they host Adelaide at Challenge Stadium, while Wollongong face a tricky Queensland road trip with games against Cairns and Gold Coast.
Wildcats recruit Galen Young, who sat out this week's clashes with New Zealand and Wollongong, is expected to receive his clearance next week in time to play against the 36ers.
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