Phoenix win big in NBL over Breakers
South East Melbourne Phoenix have powered home to defeat New Zealand Breakers 103-78 in an NBL match that saw American teenager RJ Hampton ejected in the first quarter.
Hampton's ejection kick-started a drama-packed night at Melbourne Arena on Saturday as the Phoenix improved their win-loss record to 5-2 in their inaugural season.
Hampton was ejected just four minutes in after committing a foul on South East Melbourne guard Ben Madgen, the highly-touted NBA prospect tangling with John Roberson in the aftermath.
Following a video review, the officials hit Hampton with a technical and an unsportsmanlike foul to bring his night to a premature end.
Roberson also picked up an unsportsmanlike foul in the incident while New Zealand's Corey Webster later collected one of his own in a dour opening half littered with foul calls.
New import Glen Rice Jr scored 18 points in the first half to see the Breakers lead by six but Roberson (17 points, nine assists) and Mitch Creek (21 points, 11 rebounds) fuelled a 29-14 third quarter as the Phoenix romped home.
"The first half was a disaster, that was as poor as I think we could play," Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell said after the win.
"In the second half it was a different story, I thought that was our best defensive effort of the season."
Six Phoenix players wound up scoring double-digit points, Dane Pineau (18 points, seven rebounds) and Jaye Crockett (14 and eight) making important contributions down low as they battled much taller opponents.
Webster led all scorers with 22 while Brandon Ashley added 17 points and 12 rebounds as the Breakers slump to 2-6 on the season.
"It's obviously a very bad moment for us," coach Dan Shamir said after the Breakers dropped their third game in a row.
"We've got a lot of thinking to do - we've got a lot of circumstances but we've got to find ways at least to put together a better performance even if the result doesn't follow."
Once the dust settled from Hampton's ejection, the Phoenix closed an eventful opening quarter ahead by one despite committing seven turnovers, the Breakers struggling to generate offence outside of Rice and Webster.
Playing in his 100th NBL game, Kyle Adnam provided a spark off the bench as the Phoenix took a 27-21 lead in the second quarter but Ashely helped Rice bring the Breakers back and Webster nailed a long triple to send the visitors into halftime up 48-42.
Creek's determination and Roberson shooting swung the game in the Phoenix's favour as they inspired a 15-point turnaround to lead 71-62 at the end of the third quarter.
The final term was all Phoenix as Crockett slammed home from Creek while Adam Gibson sunk a pair of triples and the margin blew out.