<
>

Kay and Cotton lead Perth to win in Cairns

Perth Wildcats kept their NBL minor premiership hopes alive on Thursday night with a thrilling win against Cairns Taipans.

The Wildcats trailed by six at the final change before going on a 9-0 run to start the fourth quarter, propelling them to a 88-84 victory at the Cairns Convention Centre.

The visitors outscored the Taipans 26-15 in the last term to improve their record to 11-5 and put them equal on wins with the ladder-leading Sydney Kings (11-3).

Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson, who notched up a 400-game milestone as an NBL head coach, praised Perth's determination.

"They (Cairns) just kept on hitting threes in that first half. You have just got to play through that. Here the crowd gets involved," Gleeson said.

"Full credit to our guys for the resilience and grit we showed in the last quarter."

Perth big man Nick Kay was a standout for the defending NBL champions, scoring a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds. He also dished off five assists.

Star guard Bryce Cotton had another typically impressive night at the office, scoring a game-high 24 points, including three-from-10 from long range.

Fellow import Terrico White took a while to warm-up but was effective in the second half to finish with 21 points.

The Taipans had the chance to square the game up late when down by three and in possession but Scott Machado missed a lay-up and handed the Wildcats the ball.

Cairns attempted to play the foul game to give themselves a chance of sending it to overtime, but couldn't stop Perth.

Powerful big man Cameron Oliver produced a stellar performance for Cairns and a number of highlights, scoring 21 points to go with his 17 rebounds.

"We have a lot of respect for Perth (and) we're trying to get that consistency," Cairns coach Mike Kelly said.

"For us, we had opportunities and we didn't finish the way we wanted to.

"It's important that we take lessons from tonight's game against a quality side and get better."

The Wildcats return to Perth to play Brisbane on Saturday night, while Cairns travel to Melbourne to South East Melbourne on Sunday.