The Perth Wildcats have escaped with a dramatic 93-92 victory over South East Melbourne Phoenix to extend their unbeaten NBL Cup run to four games.
The Wildcats led by 12 points early in the fourth quarter of Wednesday's clash at Melbourne's State Basketball Centre but hung on to win after Kyle Adnam's game-winning three-point attempt was off the mark.
Replacing injured point guard Keifer Sykes in the starting line-up for the second time, Adnam set a new career-high of 28 points when he drilled his fifth three-pointer of the night to tie the game at 90-90 with 49 seconds to play.
But a contentious foul call on Cam Gliddon allowed Bryce Cotton to put Perth on top with 14 seconds left and the Wildcats survived to move four points clear of Melbourne United at the top of the NBL Cup table.
"I thought it was really good for our character to get that one," coach Trevor Gleeson said after the win.
"To be in that position and to hold on when the run of the game is going against you ... I was pretty happy with how the guys finished the game."
Cotton (28 points) was again the catalyst for Perth's win while Todd Blanchfield added 19 points and John Mooney's 16-point, 11-rebound effort saw him complete his fifth double-double in five starts against the Phoenix.
Coach Simon Mitchell lamented his side's disastrous start where numerous turnovers and giving up offensive rebounds resulted in a fast start for Perth.
"We're always going to have a crack and try to bring it back but it's just disappointing that we continue to dig these holes and we got to find a way around it," Mitchell said.
"It can't be just sitting back and say we are looking forward to (Adam) Gibson and Keifer (Sykes) coming back - it's got to be the guys who are suiting up and we've just got to be better."
Cotton put on a dazzling offensive display in the second quarter as he added 13 points in a four-minute stretch to lead the Wildcats to a 54-38 advantage at halftime.
But after falling behind by 20, Adnam and Mitch Creek (19 points, eight rebounds, eight assists) combined to drag South East Melbourne back into the contest with a 29-20 third-quarter win.
The Phoenix continued to eat away at the Perth lead with reserve guard Izayah Mauriohooho-Le afa hitting consecutive three-pointers midway through the fourth quarter to set up a thrilling conclusion.
Australian Associated Press