Wildcats end United winning streak
A dominant double double from John Mooney was the cornerstone of the Perth Wildcats impressive 82-69 victory over ladder leaders Melbourne United at John Cain Arena on Wednesday night.
The result ended United's eleven game winning streak in just the third meeting between the top two teams on the NBL ladder this season, the visitors controlling the match from midway through the second quarter.
The Wildcats outscored Melbourne 34-17 in the second quarter then played the rest of the match on their terms and with two more meetings in Perth to come, the result sets up an enticing battle as both sides fight to lock in home-court advantage for next month's play-offs.
Melbourne made a charge late in the third quarter to close the gap to nine points but paid the price for a litany of sloppy turnovers while Perth's dominance on the offensive boards (16-8) resulted in 18 damaging points from second-chance opportunities.
Having recorded a double-double against every other NBL team in his debut season, Perth big man John Mooney broke through against United with a 30-point, 14-rebound masterclass while Bryce Cotton (16 points, 10 assists) also played a critical role in the victory.
"(Mooney) just goes to work every possession and there's a good combination with him and Bryce feeding off each other and getting separation," coach Trevor Gleeson said about the 206cm American import's impact with the Wildcats.
"We knew he had the rebounding game and his offensive game just keeps developing - he's been a real big threat out there and the guys are trusting him, giving him the ball at key moments."
United led 19-12 after one quarter but Perth's reserve unit played with greater energy and urgency as they cashed in on United's early foul trouble and poor decision making to turn a seven-point deficit into a 46-36 halftime lead.
The match looked over with Perth holding a 66-47 advantage late in the third quarter but Melbourne closed the term with nine consecutive points to revive hopes of extending their franchise-record win streak to 12 games.
But United could not produce enough offence to make a run in the final quarter, Jock Landale leading the team in scoring on his return from a minor knee injury with 11 points - the lowest points total for a leading scorer in United's franchise history.
Landale was fouled out in the final minutes of the match as Perth bounced back from their loss to New Zealand in Launceston on Saturday in impressive fashion, the teams to meet again Thursday week.