Cotton celebrates milestone in style
The Perth Wildcats marked their return to RAC Arena with a bang, trouncing the South East Melbourne Phoenix 97-71 on Friday night.
It was a win to savour in front of a packed crowd, in what was superstar Bryce Cotton's 100th NBL game for the franchise.
The Wildcats led throughout, never relinquishing the lead in a dominant performance from start to finish.
Both teams shot poorly in the first quarter, but fellow milestone man Mitch Norton helped give the home side a nine point advantage at the first break.
The second quarter was an error riddled affair, with turnovers and missed opportunities the order of the day.
Miles Plumlee found himself in early foul trouble on home debut, but the Wildcats still won the quarter to lead by 11 at half time.
Former Wildcat and new Phoenix import Devondrick Walker tried to inspire a comeback in the third term, but Cotton began to find his feet from long range with support from Mitch Norton, Clint Steindl and Nick Kay as the game blew out in Perth's favour.
All of a sudden the margin was 24 points at three quarter time, and it was all academic from there as the lead at one stage grew to 34 points before Trevor Gleeson pulled his starters from the floor, the final margin 26.
Cotton was outstanding with 25 points, Norton with 18 and Terrico White coming good off a slow start to finish with 15 points in a convincing performance from the home team.
Walker was a shining light on debut on a tough night for South East Melbourne, scoring 16 points in 24 minutes on court, John Roberson with 11 points and Dane Pineau 9 in a result that could prove terminal to the Phoenix's hopes of finals basketball in their first season.
The Wildcats have eight days to prepare for New Zealand Breakers back at RAC Arena next Saturday, while the Phoenix back up in round 16 to play ladder leaders Sydney Kings at Kudos Bank Arena.
IMAGE: Perth Wildcats website.
PERTH 97 (Cotton 25, Norton 18, White 15)
SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE 71(Walker 16, Roberson 11, Pineau 9)