ANBL: NZ Breakers fall agonisingly short against Illawarra Hawks to dash playoff hopes

The New Zealand Breakers have fallen argonisly short of a crucial ANBL victory against the Illawarra Hawks 73-71, to dash any chance of a playoff spot. 

The Kiwi side, who were playing their final game in Australia for the season before finishing their campaign with seven home games, produced a typically wholehearted performance but couldn't close out victory at the death.

The Breakers -playing their 30th and final game in Australia - were without captain Tom Abercrombie and import Levi Randolph for the crucial clash. 

The New Zealand outfit showed their usual fight and determination, refusing to give in when trailing by 15 points in the third quarter.

But the Breakers couldn't get the job done in the final stanza after taking the lead, but still had a final possession with a chance to either tie scores or win it.

The fourth place Hawks showed their class when Justin Simon came up with a massive steal on Tai Webster, who was trying to make a match winning play to seal victory.  

The ever impressive Finn Delany led the scoring for the Breakers with his third double-double of the season (20 points, 11 rebounds), while William McDowell-White chipped in with 14 points and Rasmus Bach had 13. 

Delany came out of the gates fast for the Breakers knocking down two three-pointers early on, to see his side win the opening term 27-24. 

Tai Webster stretched the Kiwi's lead to seven early in the second before Hawks guard Emmett Naar sparked their revival to close the half with a 6-0 run to put them in control 42-35 at the interval.

Hawks import Justinian Jessup stretched their lead to 15 before a pair of Back three-pointers and one from Corey Webster saw the Breakers fight back into the contest at the end of the third. 
The Breakers stormed out in the fourth quarter with triples from Delany and Bach to see them take a stunning lead 71-70 with 90 seconds to play. 

Tyler Harvey - who top-scored again for Illawarra with a game high 24 points - nailed a crucial jump shot to put Hawks up by one with just over a minute to play, but the Breakers had one final chance. 

After McDowell-White missed a jump shot with 10-seconds to play, the contest rested on the shoulders of Tai Webster who was looking to ice the game.

But Simon came up with the crucial steal to see the Hawks claim their 15th victory of the season. 

The fourth straight loss sees the Breakers remain in eighth and out of the playoff hunt while the Hawks stay in fourth place. The Kiwi side return to New Zealand on Sunday before hosting the Sydney Kings on Thursday.