The West Adelaide Bearcats have taken care of business against the bottom of the ladder Eastern Mavericks with a convincing 93-62 win at home.
Needing to keep the pressure on the top 2, the Bearcats killed the game early to put to bed any chance of an upset.
West Adelaide gained a game on Norwood, who suffered a surprise loss at the hands of South Adelaide. Only percentage keeps the Bearcats out of the top 2.
Tobias Dowdell (25 pts, 12 rebs, 2 asts) was the game’s top scorer and his presence in the post was pretty unstoppable. James Legan (23 pts, 11 rebs, 1 ast) also notched a double-double. West Adelaide’s starters saw reduced minutes due to the scoreline, with Tristan Braithwaite (10 pts, 2 rebs, 3 asts) and Tom Kubank (15 pts, 4 rebs) the only other Bearcats to reach double figures.
West Adelaide paid special attention to Mavericks star, Jake Rios, who stunned the Bearcats with 44 points in their last meeting, nearly leading his team to a huge upset in round 5.
There would be no repeat of his heroics this time around, as he was kept to just 19 points on 40% shooting.
Bearcats Coach Corey MacLean says his team successfully executed their plan to get the ball out of Rios’ hands.
“We trapped him off on-balls, we trapped him off pretty much any screens, and tried to have two bodies on him as much as possible,” says Coach MacLean.
“He got some cheap ones, some lucky ones off fumbles and things like that but we did a reasonable job on him tonight.”
Without Rios’ scoring, the Mavericks struggled to make any impact on the game. William Wise III (10 pts, 4 rebs, 2 asts) was restricted by foul trouble all night; while Rigby Aktanarowicz (6 pts, 9 rebs, 2 asts) and Patrick Jonczyk (10 pts, 6 rebs, 2 asts) tried hard in a losing cause.
West Adelaide got down to business early, scoring on their first three possessions. Dowdell opened his account with an emphatic dunk followed by a tough contested layup—finishing with 8 points for the quarter.
Legan got in on the act with a three followed by a three-point play. He also chipped in with 8 points to give the home side a 24-14 lead at quarter time
The second quarter saw the brief return of Bearcats Power Forward Jordan West, who made his first appearance since round 2. His re-emergence drawing a round of applause from the home crowd.
While it was only a brief cameo, Bearcats fans can expect to see much more of Jordan over the next few weeks.
“He’s cleared to play so hopefully he’ll be back in some form next week, probably 10-15 minutes,” says Coach MacLean.
Meanwhile, the Mavericks were slowly fading out of the game.
Another 11 points from Dowdell as well as 5 from Tom Kubank helped the Bearcats score 28 points in the second quarter, their highest scoring quarter for the night.
Despite the best efforts of William Wise III—who finished the half with a late flurry of layups—the Mavericks trailed 52-32 at the main break.
With the game in the bag, the Bearcats started pulling up from everywhere to start the second half—going 4 of 9 on threes, many of them several feet behind the arc.
Despite the ambitious perimeter shooting, the Bearcats only finished with 19 assists, the second straight week ball movement has been an issue for Coach MacLean.
“It’s not cooking the way we want it to cook,” says Coach MacLean
“We had too many turnovers tonight (16) and we just didn’t get enough extra passes for open shots.”
Although West’s offence was not in top gear, their defence was strong in the second half—keeping the Mavericks to just 30 points.
Coach MacLean says despite the blowout win, he needed to see his team perform well on defence throughout the whole game.
“We spoke about our defensive focus which for the most part we did reasonably well,” says Coach MacLean.
“We had a few lapses especially in the first half where we missed some switches and different things.
“Overall it’s about not worrying about the scoreboard and worrying about playing 40 minutes.”
West Adelaide’s reserves made the most of their extra playing time in the fourth quarter.
Matt Fauser stood out with 7 points and 4 rebounds, and Lucas Valk got on the board for the first time this season, his three getting the loudest cheer of the night.
The Bearcats will face the 9th placed Woodville Warriors next week at Wayville.
West Adelaide face three potential trap games against bottom five opponents before they play Southern in the final round.
Coach MacLean is not taking the run home lightly.
“You can’t take any of those teams for granted, so we’ve got to be switched on and doing what we need to do,”
“Doesn’t matter who you play you’ve got to come out and play good basketball.”