Perth Wildcats have given their NBL playoff hopes a major boost after coming from behind in the fourth quarter to score a crucial 93-90 win over New Zealand Breakers.
After last season's late collapse meant Perth missed out on the semi-finals for the first time since 1986, the Wildcats were in danger of tumbling to eighth spot on the ladder if they fell to a fourth loss in their last five games.
But trailing by five points heading into the final quarter at RAC Arena on Tuesday night, Bryce Cotton and Corey Webster stepped up with seven points apiece and Perth outscored New Zealand 11-4 over the final three minutes to wrap up their 11th win of the campaign.
The result sees the Wildcats (11-10) jump ahead of South East Melbourne (12-11) and Adelaide (11-10) into fifth spot with four rounds of the regular season to complete.
A double-double from TaShawn Thomas (23 points, 10 rebounds) and 19 points from Corey Webster helped Perth thwart the Breakers' attempt at a third consecutive win as the visitors dropped to third on the ladder with a 13-7 record.
"We stayed together, that's the one thing I feel like we've been struggling with all year is when (teams) come back ... but we stayed together as a team, kept fighting and pulled it off. I'm just proud of these guys," Thomas said after setting a new season-high points tally in the win.
The home side led by as many as 11 points in the first half but New Zealand centre Dererk Pardon's dominance under the basket came to the fore as the Breakers countered to take a 72-67 edge into the fourth quarter.
But Cotton shook off a rough night shooting the ball with a number of important free throws in the tense final minutes, closing the game with 14 points despite making just three of 17 shots, while Perth's defence shut New Zealand down in crunch time.
Pardon's offensive rebounding prowess and effectiveness on the pick-and-roll with point guard Will McDowell White resulted in a season-best haul of 28 points and 12 rebounds.
Thomas and Brady Manek helped Perth overcome a slow start to lead by nine in the opening quarter but could only close the term with a 20-17 advantage after giving up late three-pointers to Izayah Le'afa and Rayan Rupert.
The Webster brothers combined to push the Wildcats out to a 29-18 lead in the second period but Pardon racked up 11 points for the quarter as the Breakers reduced the margin to 40-39 by halftime.
Perth will host fellow top-six aspirant Adelaide on Saturday while the Breakers face Melbourne United in Christchurch on Thursday.