Mystics topple Magic with last quarter fightback

NORTHERN Mystics survived a scare from the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic to record their fourth win of the season and secure second spot on the ladder (67-59). It was heartbreak for the Magic after leading at every change but falling short in the final term credit to the class and stamina of the Mystics to close out the game.

The Magic raced out of the blocks with Australian Diamonds shooter, Caitlin Bassett eager to repent for her less than desirable showing last week. The now Magic shooter commanded the ball from the opening minute of the game and while Khiarna Williams was the first to sink a goal, Bassett piled on the next two. It was a fast start from the Magic as they skipped out to an early three-goal lead as the Mystics were caught on the backfoot. The Mystics did not hit the scoreboard until a minute and half of play had gone with the Magic defence working in overdrive to confuse the space and reduce the easy transition into the goal circle. Bailey Mes had her opportunities but her shooting woes continued gifting the home side with a wealth of chances to put the foot down. Magic went on another goal scoring spree as Williams and Bassett wasted no time and the return of Grace Kara was exactly what the doctor ordered as the experienced campaigner delivered the ball on a silver platter.

Waikato Bay of Plenty opened up a handy five goal lead with Erena Mikaere proving to be a real spark in defence and winning back some important ball. After a rocky start Mes started to find her groove with the Magic defenders in Mikaere and Temalisi Fakahokotua doubling back on Grace Nweke and forcing the Mystics goal attack to shoulder the load in attack. Up the other end, Williams seemed to have the ball on a string, carving up the goal circle with her leap and drive into the circle. Uncharacteristic sloppy hands from the Mystics in transition cost them opportunities to go forward and score meanwhile the Magic weaved their way down the court to hit circle edge and keep the scoreboard ticking over. Georgie Edgecombe came out strong against Peta Toeava, contesting hard around circle edge to swat ball away and clog up space.

Holding a six goal lead, the Magic looked to go one step further. Sam Winders was in the thick of things around circle edge, scrapping hard and capitalising with their speed down the court to bypass the Mystics defence. Bold plays from the Mystics were starting to pay off as Sulu Fitzpatrick went out hunting and Toeava backed herself from distance to hoist it into Nweke. The Mystics went on a goal scoring spree of their own culling the margin back to six goals after it got out to eight. Fa’amu Ioane upped the ante against Kara, forcing her into the pockets while Fitzpatrick and Kate Burley increased the footwork to shut down all the attacking options. The Mystics nailed five goals in a row before, Bassett landed a much needed steadier to give the home side a bit of breathing space.

In a surprise move, Chiara Semple came on to replace Williams in the dying minutes of the term but it did not seem to disrupt the Magic attacking end. Edgecombe got up nice and high to provide support in attack for the Magic while for the Mystics things started to turn in favour of them. The combination between Toeava and Nweke started to really come to the fore as they pegged the margin back to four goals.

There were changes aplenty for the Magic to start the third quarter with Williams re-entering the game and Georgia Tong pulling on the goal defence bib. The move of Mikaere onto Nweke had an immediate impact with the defender’s extra centimetres causing the feeders to second guess the pass in. The Mystics started to find their mojo while Kara started to labour in attack for Waikato Bay of Plenty throwing away a couple of costly passes. Tayla Earle showcased her sheer athleticism managing to pull in a ball while falling out of court and rocketing the pass into Nweke under the post. they really started to rally with the margin to two goals. The speed came off the Magic frontend with their transition becoming somewhat predictable and allowing the Mystics to read the game.

The Mystics chipped their way back into the game levelling the scores at the seven minute mark. Filda Vui was injected into the game for the Mystics with her speed and playmaking skills coming to the fore. But the Magic were not about to bow down as they hit back with a couple of big goals off the hand of Bassett to propel them back out to a three goal lead. Burley really came to life as the goal defence used her aerial smarts to have an influence but the home side retained their three goal buffer for majority of the term.

With it all to play for in the final term the  wheels started to fall off for the Magic as the visitors kicked it up a gear. Vui’s level of composure allowed her to draw attention of Nweke as they not only pegged away at the lead but stole it. Nweke utilised her strength on the rebound while Bassett took a huge hit up the other end of the court. Fitzpatrick’s dominance sparked her entire side as the Mystics blew out to a five goal lead. A costly penalty from Fakahokotau saw her receive a warning and the penalty advanced with things well and truly starting to unravel. Unfortunately the Magic were unable to maintain their hot start to the game while the Mystics showcased their ability to grind out games and prevail.

Williams was in scintillating form sinking a 30 goals from 36 attempts and 11 goal assists while Bassett also impressed thanks to her 26 goals at 93 per cent. Kara was the missing link the side needed thanks to her 13 goal assists as Winders was a strong driving force thanks to her 24 goal assists. Mikaere was a nuisance with her four gains and five deflections. For the Mystics, Nweke was the prominent shooter with 47 goals from 55 attempts at a lower than usual accuracy of 86 per cent while Vui was the difference when she came on thanks to her 12 goals at 86 per cent.  Toeava was a real livewire with ball in hand thanks to her 31 goal assists as Fitzpatrick and Burley combined for eight gains and eight deflections.

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