Illawarra Hawks arrived in Wagga undermanned, and paid for it with a 21-point loss in the Waratah League at Bolton Park on Saturday.
“When you’re sitting at the bottom of the ladder, you’re not going to get a win if you bring six players,” Wagga Heat captain Zac Maloney said.
Wagga beat Illawarra 97 to 76, and Maloney, relentless offensively, delivered his all-time top score of 35.
Offensively, Wagga players were strong all game; Matt Pebole and Scott Hare also made their mark.
Wagga’s full list made the scoreboard, including Liam Hiscox, with four points on his debut.
Illawarra challenged Wagga in the first quarter, scoring 23 points.
“It was one of those games where we played at their level,” Maloney said.
“Looking at their record, we came into the game thinking we could win easily and walk on top of them.
“After half time our defence stepped up.
“We started scrappy but we finished strong.”
Maloney sustained an ankle injury with four minutes left on the clock.
He hopes to recover before Wagga confronts Lithgow, a team on six wins and three losses, including a win over Wagga in round two.
Wagga, on four wins and four losses, plays Lithgow at Bolton Park on Saturday.
A win would help the Heat on their quest to climb into the top eight before preliminary rounds wrap up on July 22.