Hawks 87
Breakers 69

By now it must feel like an awful recurring nightmare.

Something about this Illawarra Hawks team lulls the Breakers into a deep slumber and, by the time they awake, the damage inflicted is enough to make Freddy Krueger blush.

For the third time this season, Kirk Penney and the Hawks have dealt the defending champions a heavy defeat, with the one-time Breaker grabbing 28 points to help Illawarra send his former club further into a downward spiral.


It might be a bit facetious but tonight was at least an improvement - the Hawks won by 21 when the teams met at the same venue in October and triumphed by 24 last month in Auckland.

On the topic of silver linings, the Breakers face their tormenters only once more this season. Unfortunately for Dean Vickerman and co, that meeting is set for Sunday afternoon at Vector Arena.

That game could quickly assume must-win status for the struggling champs. The Breakers (11-9) have lost three in a row and four of their last five, meaning another setback on Sunday would see the Hawks (13-8) move well clear and surely leave Vickerman's finger hovering over the panic button.

A shocking second quarter proved the Breakers' undoing tonight, cruelly coming after a first period in which they excelled through energy and effort. The visitors scored just nine points in the second period and watched the Hawks canter clear, with the margin quickly swelling to unseemly levels.

The Breakers at least showed some fight late as Corey Webster warmed up to score 21 of his 23 points after halftime but, by then, it was too late. The Kiwi club have now lost seven of 10 across the Tasman - with their only wins coming against the bottom two clubs in the competition - and that mark must improve in the final month of the regular season.

For 10 minutes it looked set to improve tonight. Considering the previous carnage against the Hawks, the Breakers would have been thrilled with conceding only 21 points in the first quarter.

Then the second happened. Breakdowns in communication on defence allowed the Hawks too many free looks from beyond the arc and even a few wide-open lay-ups. At the other end, the Breakers were shooting air balls and missing free throws to allow their opponents on a 15-0 run.

Once Webster scored the final points in the half - his first of the evening - the champs were facing a 19-point deficit and appearing certain for another blowout loss.

Offensive boards were a problem all evening and, once Penney seized a second chance to begin the third with a three, it was game over. The Breakers did eat away at a deficit that swelled as large as 29 but that will be little consolation ahead of a few more sleepless nights.

Hawks 87 (Penney 28, Lisch 16, Martin 13)
Breakers 69 (Webster 23, Jackson 14, Abercrombie 7)