Wildcats just too good for Sixers in NBL

Steve Barrett
Bryce Cotton (left) contributed 18 points as Perth Wildcats overcame the Sixers

The Perth Wildcats returned to the winner's circle and jumped to second position on the NBL ladder with a 99-95 victory over the Adelaide 36ers.

Trailing by a point at half-time, the reigning champions turned it on offensively in the third quarter and survived a gallant Sixers fightback in the fourth on Friday.

Boomer Nick Kay (21 points) enjoyed a big second half and fittingly iced the victory from the free throw line with six seconds left after Ramone Moore's drive had made it 97-95.

Import Dario Hunt (19 points) had a fine game while Bryce Cotton (18 points at 31 per cent) overcame a horror first half and a poor shooting night to still contribute.

"It was really good from halftime," Perth coach Trevor Gleeson said.

"I thought the game was there to be won and whatever team came out and really asserted in the second half was going to win.

"The boys really stepped up."

Daniel Johnson (23 points, 13 rebounds) and Jerome Randle (23 points) spearheaded the Sixers' fightback from nine points down midway through the final period.

Still five points in arrears with 34 seconds left, Moore made it a two-point ball-game with seven seconds remaining but after Kay converted twice from the stripe, Adelaide couldn't execute on their last play with Johnson and Moore both missing.

"We played a pretty good game. Statistically we out-rebounded them and our assist-to-turnover ratio was pretty good," 36ers coach Joey Wright said.

"But they made the big plays when it counted."

The Sixers started promisingly, leading 25-22 at quarter-time with American Eric Griffin rifling eight points in the first four minutes.

Cotton uncharacteristically missed his first seven shots and was forced to wait until almost the last minute of the half before finally breaking his duck.

Fellow imports Hunt (15 first-half points) and Terrico White (12) picked up the slack and kept the Wildcats in the game.

White's corner three in the last minute was neutralised by Obei Kyei's tip-in which gave Adelaide a 46-45 half-time edge, capping a see-sawing second term which comprised 12 lead changes.

Kay seized control of the contest with 10 third-quarter points, including a big three and a thunderous slam before Jesse Wagstaff, with a three, a steal and a lay-up in the space of 16 seconds gave Perth a five-point three-quarter-time cushion.

An open-palmed push to Cotton's midfiff saw Griffin called for an unsportsmanlike foul as Adelaide seemed to lose their way but they refused to wave the white flag.

Ultimately, though, they were undone by superior execution from Perth and some typically stunning defence from captain Damian Martin.