Melbourne United beats Illawarra Hawks 104-91
It wasn’t easy, but Melbourne (Australia) United got the job done in Wollongong, New South Wales, on Saturday evening against the Illawarra Hawks as Chris Goulding and Stanton Kidd led the team.
Illawarra exploded out of the blocks early to take a 22-11 lead thanks to Tim Coenraad draining three-pointers, but with Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. making a living at the charity stripe, Melbourne fought back late in the quarter to take a 28-26 lead into the first break.
After draining triples on the first two possessions of the game, Goulding got going again in the second quarter, and when he drained his fourth triple of the evening halfway through the second term, United owned a 43-38 lead.
The Hawks were struggling to handle the ball, and their turnovers proved costly as Goulding and Morgan City High alum Shawn Long made them pay with buckets for United. At the main break, United held a 55-50 lead, with Goulding recording a season-high 16 first-half points. Long had 12 points and five rebounds.
The second half began with a Melo Trimble drive and lay-up before Mitch McCarron connected on a reverse at the rim to boost Melbourne’s lead to 59-50.
Kidd got the start in the second half, and he made sure his presence was felt with key plays on both ends of the court that helped United stay in the game while the Hawks made a charge.
Illawarra’s third quarter was impressive as it held Melbourne to 17 points and boasted a 74-72 lead heading into the final frame.
Consecutive buckets from Goulding and McCarron were crucial to begin the fourth term, and when McCarron connected on an and-1 at the rim halfway through the term, Melbourne had taken an 86-79 lead.
The work of McCarron was sublime down the stretch, while Trimble also scored key buckets. Then there was Kidd, who had triples, points in the paint and played harassing defense on the other end.
In the final five minutes, Goulding, Long and Kidd provided highlight after highlight. Melbourne’s lead ballooned in the final minutes, and the exclamation point on the win was a Long alley-oop courtesy of a Goulding pass.
On the back of a 32-17 fourth quarter, Melbourne recorded a 104-91 win. Kidd (21 points, five three-pointers and five rebounds) and Goulding (21 points, four three-pointers) helped United claim an important road win — their third straight away from home.
McCarron (16 points and six rebounds) and Long (17 points, seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks) were impressive on both ends of the court, while Trimble (eight points, five assists and two steals) was important down the stretch. Lual-Acuil (10 points) provided production off bench.
Illawarra was led by Josh Boone (13 rebounds and 12 points) and Coenraad (18 points).
With the win, United improves to 11-9 on the season to sit third on the ladder. Next up for Melbourne is a road game against Adelaide Saturday.