Harvey stars as Hawks outlast Breakers

·2-min read

Behind Tyler Harvey's masterclass, the Illawarra Hawks snapped a three-game losing skid and kept their NBL finals hopes alive after grinding past the New Zealand Breakers 75-67 at the Silverdome in Launceston.

Star point guard Harvey (29 points, seven steals) enjoyed a blinding first half on Monday night, single-handedly keeping the fifth-placed Hawks in the contest before restamping his authority in a lopsided fourth quarter.

Thanks to Harvey's brilliance and some stifling team defence, Illawarra completely blanketed NZ 23-4 either side of three-quarter-time to transform a 49-55 deficit into a match-winning 72-59 advantage.

"We started a little slow, then our trapping and rotations got more aggressive," Hawks coach Brian Goorjian said.

"From the first quarter-and-a-half on, I thought our defence got better and better.

"The energy, desperation and fight on that end is something I'm really proud of."

Slick southpaw Harvey opened with a triple inside the first 14 seconds and had 21 of his team's 40 points at half-time but it was a lone vigil against a Breakers outfit which started smoothly.

Despite being without import Levi Randolph, who suffered a hamstring tear while hitting the last-second match-winner against Perth on Saturday, NZ opened up a 23-18 quarter-time cushion.

The Webster brothers, Tai and Corey, combined for 20 first-half points and the Breakers moved ahead 38-31 before Harvey inspired a late burst, tying the scores at 40-all with a typically blistering drive on the half-time bell.

Harvey was kept scoreless in the third as Illawarra fell in a six-point hole, which they dug themselves out of to take a slender 58-57 three-quarter-time lead.

The Breakers, tiring while playing their fifth game in 10 days, went ice-cold in the fourth and missed their first nine shots, while Harvey went to work at both ends and finished the match strongly.

The Hawks (13-14) edged within one win of top-four incumbents South East Melbourne and Sydney (both 14-13).

Captain Tom Abercrombie (14 points), Tai Webster (14) and Will McDowell-White (13) were NZ's best.

"In the first half we did struggle with Tyler Harvey," Breakers coach Dan Shamir said.

"Then we struggled offensively with turnovers, shot-making and maybe a bit of fatigue in the second half."