Maitland Mustangs captain Terrell Turner landed a three-point jump shot to seal an 86-85 victory against Norths Bears in front of an ecstatic Mustangs home crowd on Saturday night.
In an inspirational second-half performance, Turner willed his team across the line scoring eight of the final 12 points as Maitland made up an 11-point deficit with just 1min39sec on the clock.
Daniel Milburn also landed a vital three-pointer to bring the Mustangs within four points with 41 seconds left on the clock.
But it could have easily gone to overtime with Bears player James MacCann missing the first of two free-throws with North down by two.
Mustangs star Tyler Monroe recorded yet another double-double scoring 26 points and pulling in 16 rebounds, Turner wasn’t far behind with 23 points and nine rebounds.
“Terrell down the stretch was clutch for us. He got a three-point play and a three-pointer which pretty much won the game for us,” Mustangs coach Luke Boyle said.
“He responded to some half-time criticism from myself. He was very good at both ends of the court. In offence he was shooting at a real high percentage, believing in himself and it’s good to have that Terrell back.
“We had a chat at half-time as we were pretty disappointed with second efforts, which just meant they were making some second-effort plays and we were getting caught off and not making an effort to close out the people who were shooting.
“They actually shot a higher percentage from the three-point line than what they did from the free-throw.
“They were wide open shots, that team is a three-point shooting team and if you leave them within no one within two metres they are going to knock it down.
“As soon as we fixed the defensive pressure in the second half, the shots stopped falling and we made our way back into the game.”
The Mustangs started well but midway through the first quarter slowed down and they were down by as much as 19 points before the break.
“I said to the boys at half-time, you’ve got Tyler being hit by three people and still going after that ball and that’s what we all need to be more like,” Boyle said.
“He’ll get hit three times and still get the rebound.”
“But what was happening we would be hit once and just stop and we didn’t give that second effort to go and get it.”
Boyle said the whole team responded to the half-time talk.
“We worked on a few things over the course of the week and down the stretch Dan Milburn come up big for us on a three-pointer on one of the plays we had just started running the last two weeks,” he said.
“He is a real talent, he just needs to stay in the game. He is an unbelievable scorer, he is probably one of the best shooters I’ve played with.
He needs to work on keeping his hand out in defence and he could be playing 20-plus minutes.”
Boyle said with Vili Foketi unavailable the Mustangs played a small line-up for a fairly large portion of the game, which helped with their run.
“We made some pretty quick changes through the end stages to keep guys fresh. It helped as we could maintain the momentum right to the end and get up,” he said.