THE Griffith Demons failed to douse the hot hands of Wagga Heat stars Erick Olsen and Bobby Tye and paid the price with a 14-point State League Basketball loss at West End Stadium on Saturday night.
With the Demons playing their first game in five weeks their early offensive work was missing the usual polish expected from coach Andrew Cullen and his men, but it was their lack of energy without the ball that cost them.
Too often Griffith’s close-out defence on the perimeter was half a step too slow, allowing Olsen and Tye to bomb away from beyond the perimeter.
The pair hit an amazing 11 three-pointers between them as they combined for 62 points, 41 of which coming from Olsen as he led the Heat from the front.
Cullen said their defence was simply not up to scratch, agreeing they allowed Wagga’s main weapons to lock on and fire.
“They (Wagga) played well but we kept asking the question and they kept hitting the big shots, I can’t deny that,” Cullen said.
“I think our defence lacked a little bit, we need to pick that up a bit but we’ve identified that.
“But I kept telling the boys it wasn’t so much about this game but how we play after it, but you could see Wagga have been playing for the past month, you could feel that out there.
“I think they got easy shots on the outside and on the inside and they were pretty much having their way with us.
“So I think to lose by 14 isn’t that bad an effort, we kept coming at them and we annoyed them because we kept coming, so I’m pleased the guys showed a bit of grit out there.”
Turnovers in the first quarter cost the Demons any chance of building an offensive rhythm as Wagga took control of the game, hitting the home side on the fastbreak in front of a massive crowd.
There was plenty of feeling through the game as players had to be separated from shoving matches, but it was all Wagga early as they opened up a 29-18 lead at the first break.
Olsen’s silky stroke continued to be deadly for Wagga, with his quick release seeing him get his shot off almost at will.
Nick Cullen (20 points) began to get the hoop strongly, but the home side was unable to put on the kind of eight-to-10 point run needed as the Heat controlled the game to lead by 53-45 at half-time, thanks to a Olsen
Dom Tye and Griffith American import Alex Chapman (22 points) got physical in the third quarter, before the towering Demons centre picked up his fourth personal foul, forcing him to sit out.
“That’s not going to help you, I can see he’s lacking minutes and I need him to get minutes and he’s sitting out a quarter,” Cullen said of Chapman’s absence.
“I need him out there and he needs to get on board and not get into foul trouble, he just can’t do it.
“They (Wagga) did a pretty good offensive job on him (Chapman), but he’s got to learn to be a bit more assertive, because when he was, he pretty much scored every time.
“In fairness to him our ball movement wasn’t the best so it cuts both ways, we need to help him and he needs to help himself.”
After being down by as much as 20 in the third quarter, Griffith was further inconvenienced when Andrew Cullen needed treatment for a gash to his head in the last period, which saw him sit out for the rest of the game.
But Olsen’s hot hand from the field failed to cool off as Wagga ran out as deserving winners.