Melbourne United have kept their unbeaten start to the NBL season intact after a stirring 75-71 victory over the Perth Wildcats.
United's perfect start to the season was under serious threat at Bendigo Basketball Stadium on Sunday as Bryce Cotton (24 points, seven rebounds, six assists) led a late Wildcats charge to see the visitors down by two in the final minute.
Cotton has a history of breaking United hearts with his late-game heroics but a costly turnover denied his side a chance to draw level, Jack White securing a clutch offensive rebound on the next possession to deny Perth a shot at victory.
Jock Landale (16 points, six rebounds) then added a pair of free throws with 2.3 seconds left to seal Melbourne's fifth win in a row.
Down by nine points in the third quarter and with captain Chris Goulding sidelined with a calf injury, United produced a stunning turnaround with Japanese import Yudai Baba (14 points, two steals and two blocks) leading the charge.
"I liked the way that we just stuck tough defensively and Yudai was such a massive factor in the second half, just slowing (Cotton) down and making everything as difficult as possible," Dean Vickerman said as United survived to remain as the only undefeated team left in the competition.
Goulding's 150th appearance in United colours ended prematurely after the Boomers guard strained his calf in the third quarter, adding to United's injury toll with Shea Ili sidelined with an ankle problem suffered in Friday's 13-point victory over the Brisbane Bullets.
"Hopefully it's a minor (strain) and it doesn't hold him out too long - having Shea out already, another guard, it certainly challenges our depth," Vickerman said about Goulding's injury.
Perth held a narrow 14-13 lead after a dour opening quarter but United opened the second period with a 13-5 run before Cotton answered the call with 15 first-half points as the Wildcats took a 42-37 lead into the main break.
Perth quickly extended their lead to nine in the third period but United made a late surge to tie the game, David Barlow's triple on the siren levelling the scores at 56-56 to set up a dramatic final quarter.
"I thought we played pretty well for about 35 minutes," Perth coach Trevor Gleeson said, pointing to a five-minute lapse in the third quarter that ultimately cost them the game.
"We might have been fatigued during that period but our execution was sloppy and our defence wasn't great."