Tasmania edge out Bullets in frenetic NBL finish

Ethan James |

Softly-spoken import Milton Doyle has called for his fair share of free throws after helping the Tasmania JackJumpers to a tense 87-85 NBL win over the Brisbane Bullets. 

The JackJumpers snapped the Bullets’ three-game winning streak and broke a two-game losing run of their own, on Saturday evening in Launceston.

Doyle top-scored with 24 points after a quiet few games – and just seven points in a tight loss to the same opposition six days earlier. 

“My goal for this game was to be a little more aggressive,” he said. 

“I watched some clips with the coaches … I got to 10 shots last game and the game before that. 

“My goal was just to get more shots up. I get more shots up, more will go in.” 

After trailing 45-41 at halftime, Tasmania produced their best third quarter of the season with Doyle landing three three-pointers. 

Tasmania shot 13/35 three-point attempts, compared to the Bullets’ 2/13. 

In contrast, Brisbane were 25/31 at the free-throw line, while the JackJumpers were just 10/11. 

“I don’t know what it is, but I would appreciate getting some free throws,” Doyle said.

“I watch all these guys yell and scream every time somebody touches them. Just because I don’t do that, doesn’t mean I don’t get touched.” 

Tasmania took a 75-66 lead into the last quarter but Brisbane wouldn’t say die, with Tyrell Harrison pulling off a run of six points to reduce the margin to three. 

Neither team scored in a chaotic end-to-end final two minutes. 

Brisbane’s Mitch Norton missed two free shots during that period while former JackJumper Sam McDaniel couldn’t nail a shot that would have tied the game with mere seconds left.

Bullets coach Justin Schueller said his side at times looked tired playing their fourth game in nine days. 

“But I’m really proud of the fight in the group,” he said. 

“To hold Tassie to 12 in that last quarter and give ourselves three chances to win the game. There is still some satisfaction in that.”

It was revenge for the JackJumpers, who went down to the Bullets by three points on Sunday and are now 5-4 for the season.

Harrison was Brisbane’s highest scorer with 20 points and also picked up eight rebounds. 

Tasmania jumped out of the blocks, reaching 9-0 early before holding a 21-19 margin at the end of the first quarter.

The Bullets fought their way to the lead early in the second quarter and got in front by as many as nine points. 

Doyle landed an important three-pointer on the halftime buzzer and then went back-to-back with threes early in the third quarter.

Brisbane, who finished second bottom last season with eight wins, have five wins from their first 10 games in 2023-24.