NBL: Tamworth's Nick Kay scores 16 points as Illawarra Hawks beat Brisbane Bullets 104-82

TO THE RACK: Hawks guard Rotnei Clarke drives to the basket in Sunday's win over Brisbane Bullets in Wollongong. Photo: Sylvia Liber
TO THE RACK: Hawks guard Rotnei Clarke drives to the basket in Sunday's win over Brisbane Bullets in Wollongong. Photo: Sylvia Liber

The Illawarra Hawks made it a hat-trick of victories with a 104-82 demolition of Brisbane Bullets at WIN Entertainment Centre on New Year’s Eve.

After leading by just four points at the half, Illawarra ran riot in the second stanza to boost their record to 8-9 heading into 2018.

MVP candidate Demitrius Conger was at his brilliant best again while Brisbane guard Travis Trice (32 points) shot lights out on a losing side.

Conger finished with a near triple-double, tallying 24 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and three steals.

Star guard Rotnei Clarke had 21 points while Nick Kay (16 points), Tim Coenraad (10 points) and Cody Ellis (nine points) all had outstanding games.

Kay also had four rebounds and three assists.

Brisbane were without star Perrin Buford (ankle), forcing his fellow import Trice and veteran forward Daniel Kickert (17 points, eight rebounds) to pick up the load.

Illawarra shot out of the blocks as Clarke and Kay both found their range to help build an early buffer.

When Coenraad drained a corner three in the final minute it gave Illawarra a commanding 32-24 advantage at the first break.

Conger followed a crowd pleasing fast-break dunk with a pretty step-back jumper to get the Hawks going when matters resumed.

It gave the hosts their first double digit lead of the night.

Trice, who had 24 points at half time, did his best to keep his side in the hunt. 

The American guard had his eye in from range, shooting 5/6 from three point land in the first half.

He drained a further three from the charity stripe with seconds remaining in the half to help peg back the margin to four points when they went to dressing rooms. 

Bullets veteran forward Daniel Kickert showed his offensive skillset with a classy spin move before kissing one of the backboard to put the pressure on the hosts early in the second half.

A determined and-one play from Kay put the momentum squarely back in the Hawks favour and when Cody Ellis made off the glass Illawarra had restored their double digit buffer.

After entering the final change 81-72 in front, they showed no signs off taking the foot off the pedal in the fourth term.

Ellis led the assault at both ends of the floor.

The bench forward pulled off a massive block on Brisbane’s Mitch Young, grabbed three steals while also keeping the scoreboard ticking on offence.

His energy proved infectious as Illawarra surged clear for an important win.