Despite being already eliminated from the postseason, Melbourne United fought hard until the final seconds in a 96-94 defeat against the Perth Wildcats. Josh Boone had a huge game of 27 points and 11 rebounds on 11-of-12 shooting, as Casper Ware Jr. scored 27 points with six assists. Chris Goulding added 21 points.
Casey Prather had a strong game of 26 points and 11 assists, as Matt Knight also had a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds. Jameel McKay joined in on the party with 14 points and 10 boards, with Bryce Cotton scoring 19 points. Shawn Redhage scored two points in his regular-season finale.
Goulding swished his first attempt from beyond the arc, though Prather’s three and a post-up from Knight surged Perth ahead 7-3. Majok flipped one off the glass over McKay and Knight, then sent the latter’s shot into the stands with a huge swat down the other end. Prather tossed up an alley-oop for Cotton to finish, though Ware Jr.’s free-throws and Goulding’s second triple got Melbourne ahead 10-9. Boone converted a lay-in after Knight’s jumper, then Ware Jr. spotted the big man for a two-hand alley-oop jam. Goulding curled off Boone’s screen for a three after Andersen’s post move, followed by Ware Jr.’s jumper to make it 23-18. Andersen faked Wagstaff away for the open shot, as Boone dropped in a buzzer-beating tip-in to lead 29-21 after one quarter.
Cotton nailed a corner three and Brandt’s long jumper pulled the Wildcats to within three. Boone faced up for a jumper and Wesley got to the charity stripe, restoring the lead to 33-26 and Perth needing a timeout. Prather slashed to the rim courtesy of McKay’s offensive rebound, followed by trips to the line for Knight and himself to make it 34-32 midway through the second period. Boone crushed in Goulding’s miss with a two-hand tip-slam, though another three by Prather cut the lead to one. Goulding fired up the crowd with another deep jumper, and Perth refused to go away as Knight’s bank shot trimmed it to 42-40. Kenny knocked down back-to-back threes around Boone’s lay-up, though Melbourne was still ahead 47-46 after the first half. It was a physical second quarter, as both teams combined to shoot 16-of-22 free-throws and 17 fouls called.
Barlow hit nothing but net from beyond the arc, with Ware Jr.’s free-throws extending the advantage to four. He dropped a pull-up three and another lay-up for Melbourne, though shots from McKay and Knight kept Perth close at 57-56. The visitors took a 63-58 lead on trips to the line by Knight and Redhage alongside Prather’s three-point play. Wesley ended his side’s struggles from the field with a shot from the paint, with Goulding’s swished triple drawing the score level. Cotton and Ware Jr. traded lay-ups, but Prather’s free-throws and jumper had Perth leading 69-65 with a quarter to go.
Andersen got the ball to Boone under the rim as Ware Jr. followed up with a lay-in and jumper to tie it at 71-71. Prather beat the shot-clock buzzer with a finger-roll, McKay scored under the hoop and Kenny’s high-arcing floater surged the Wildcats ahead by six. Boone ended the run with a reverse lay-up, but Wagstaff would immediately make a three to put the game at 80-73. Martin stole away an inbounds pass, setting up McKay for a huge one-hand slam over Goulding and a nine-point lead. Boone finished a three-point play before Ware Jr.’s lay-up, yet another Prather triple and his assist to McKay kept Melbourne down by nine. McKay fought through Andersen for a shot, though yet another three-point play for Boone had the score at 89-81. The big man continued to fight, tipping home Blanchfield’s miss with 1:53 to play. Cotton finished off his own miss, though huge threes down the stretch from Ware Jr. and Goulding had Melbourne trailing just 93-91 with 12.3 seconds to play. Andersen also made a big three two seconds left, but the Wildcats would go on to win 96-94.