Melbourne 92 Breakers 98

After all the attention lavished on the guards last week, perhaps the big men were feeling a little left out.

A career night from Alex Pledger and some clutch shooting from Rob Loe tonight carried the Breakers (3-3) to a big overtime win over Melbourne United (4-4), grabbing a second straight victory to revive a stuttering season.

Last Sunday, against Adelaide, it was the sharp shooting of Kirk Penney and Corey Webster that procured victory. Tonight in Victoria, almost every Breaker played a role but it was the tall timber that stood above the rest.

Pledger started and finished strongly to help his side dominate on the inside, eventually equalling his career-best mark for the Breakers with 20 points on nine-of-10 shooting and grabbing 10 rebounds for good measure.


Loe, meanwhile, converted the promise he had shown from range in the early weeks into a pivotal contribution, scoring 10 of his 13 points in the space of 65 seconds towards the end of overtime.

The Tall Black's consecutive threes handed the Breakers a lead they would not give up, winning a wild game and setting up their weekend nicely ahead of the visit of Brisbane on Sunday afternoon.

Tonight's was a game the Breakers looked well-placed to win. They were enjoying the opportunity to play an opponent missing two of their best players in Chris Goulding and Todd Blanchfield, they restricted former teammate Cedric Jackson to just nine points, and they started with the same vigour displayed in last week's thumping of Adelaide.

Unlike the long-range barrage that carried them at Vector, though, the Breakers took almost seven minutes to make their first three-pointer against Melbourne. But by the time it arrived, through a second-chance basket from Kirk Penney, they were already nine points in front.

That lead was a result of the success they, and particularly Pledger, were enjoying against Melbourne's interior. The visitors' work on the inside helped them jump in front by 14 points late in the first quarter, which was right about when things started to go wrong.

The offensive output that had carried the Breakers through their last five quarters suddenly dried up. They went three minutes without scoring in the second period, during which time a 13-0 run from Melbourne carried the home side to within a point.

As it had earlier in the season, turnovers were proving the Breakers' undoing, coughing up possession on eight occasions in the first half, errors that saw Melbourne profit to the tune of 13 points.

Still, efficient shooting in the paint and extra energy on the boards allowed the Breakers to retain their narrow edge heading into halftime, kicking themselves for allowing Melbourne so close but knowing they were unlikely to suffer another 14-point quarter like they had in the second.

And the Breakers did indeed regain some of their poise on offence. Unfortunately for Paul Henare's men, a lopsided foul count contributed to a deficient third quarter of defence, allowing Melbourne to pour in 30 points and take an eight-point edge into the fourth.

The hosts were initially doing an admirable job of limiting the types of open looks the Breakers enjoyed from beyond the arc last weekend, but Tom Abercrombie eventually found time and space in the final period. Four triples from the shooting guard saw his side eat away at the deficit and strong work from Pledger at both ends allowed the Breakers a chance to win it.

But a turnover and a miss from Penney on their final two possessions sent the game to overtime, eventually providing the chance for Loe to play hero. The only downside for the Breakers in victory was an injury to point guard Ben Woodside, who limped off late in the game after adding 10 points and nine assists.

Melbourne 92 (K. Adnam 19, T. Wesley 17, R. Moore 13)
Breakers 98 (A. Pledger 20, T. Abercrombie 17, K. Penney 17)
Halftime: 40-41