Jackjumpers spoil Taipans streak
The CQUniversity Cairns Taipans were the only team that had not lost a game at home so far this season, but their streak was broken in worst possible way – losing their Indigenous Round game on the buzzer in overtime, against the Tasmania Jackjumpers 87-90. Patrick Miller proved he is back in form following his back injury, scoring the game-high 26 points, four assists and three boards as his running mate Tahjere McCall had 21 points, four assists, three steals and two rebounds.
Cairns held onto home court against the Sydney recently and against the South East Melbourne at the very start of the season, but after returning from Perth on Friday, the Taipans struggled offensively in the first quarter on Saturday night at the Cairns Convention Centre.
The Jackjumpers managed a double-digit lead in the opening but it didn’t last long, as McCall and Miller revealed their on court chemistry and Lat Mayen again proved lethal off the bench.
Mayen continues to force his way into Most Improved Player candidate conversations, who had seven points shooting at 100% and inspired a 15-4 run in the second quarter, helping the Taipans take back the lead.
The team’s focus in recent weeks has been rebounding, losing the count again 29 – 48 in this contest however after logging 19 turnovers in Perth on Thursday, Taran Armstrong, Miller and McCall had no turnovers at the half, securing the two-point buffer.
It was a nail-biting contest coming back from the main break, with multiple lead changes as the best offensive team in the league fought the best defensive team in the league and the crowd rode every wave, with a thrilling fadeaway three-pointer from Bul Kuol in the third setting up a fiery fourth quarter.
Cairns managed to hold their six-point advantage at three-quarter time for most of the final period but their scoring dried up towards the end of regulation – only managing 10 points as Tasmania refused to go away and levelled scores at 77.
The back-and-forth battle continued in overtime, with McCall opening the extra period with an easy, breezy layup and managing to repeat it with just six seconds remaining to tie the game again, all but guaranteeing a second overtime period.
But, Cairns’ undefeated home streak was not meant to last as Tasmania’s Jack McVeigh took the hero shot at the buzzer – hitting a deep three and spoiling Cairns' streak and Indigenous Round game.
Young point guard Taran Armstrong was impressively measured post-game, putting the heart-breaking loss into perspective.
“Tonight… It’s really a coin flip.
"It comes down to a game-winner. Obviously, it sucks to go out like that. But we’ve got good leadership. We’ll bounce back. We’re not just going to roll over and take it. We’re going to continue to fight and get better. We’ll be back and we’ll be fine,” he said.