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Clutch Cotton beats Breakers in OT



Bryce Cotton once again enhanced his status as one of the greatest NBL players of all time, producing a starring role against New Zealand Breakers in Launceston on Tuesday night.


With one second on the clock in the fourth quarter Cotton produced a three point buzzer beater to take the game to overtime at the Silverdome, continuing that dominance in the overtime period as the Wildcats prevailed 85-79.


Sending the crowd of 1385 into hysterics, Cotton's Wildcats trailed by four points early in overtime but the league's best player stood taller than his 1.82m, finishing with 34 points in the six-point win.


Remarkably Cotton had gone scoreless in the opening quarter and had only five points to half time before exploding in to action late in the piece, producing yet another chapter in a phenomenal NBL career.


The first Tasmanian NBL match since December 2005, and the 238th in the state's history, saw the eighth-placed Breakers jump out of the blocks and race to a 23-9 lead at the first break as Finn Delany and Robert Loe both put six opening-quarter points on the board. But the Wildcats couldn't be tamed that easily, bringing the margin back to just one point at half-time, doubling their points the the paint percentage in the process.


An early third-quarter three-pointer to vice-captain Mitch Norton saw them hit the front for the first time as his side looked like pulling away with the game.


Heading into the final term 52-49 leaders, it also seemed like the Wildcats were going to keep the Breakers at bay and their big-time experience would be too much.


But the adopted home side rallied, making the most of their opportunities, and as Breaker Corey Webster made two free throws with 37 seconds remaining, the scoreboard pressure was on - trailing by just one point.


That pressure seemed to get to opposing skipper Norton, who missed two from the line at his end before William McDowell-White made a lay-up and two free throws to give the Breakers a three-point lead.


Enter Cotton, who would eventually quash that lead with a breathtaking three and send it into overtime.


The win was Wildcats' 16th of the season, bringing their record to 16-5, while the Breakers sit at 5-14 and were unable to bring home a win for captain Tom Abercrombie's 350th game.


It wasn't all doom and gloom for the skipper who overtook Kirk Penney's three-point record for the Breakers, having sat on 488 from beyond the arc for the past five games.

The Breakers' next clash in Launceston is on Friday against the Brisbane Bullets, while Perth return home to host Illawarra at RAC Arena on Friday night.


IMAGE: The Examiner.