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Thunderbirds celebrate Milestone with win, Magic win rollercoaster against Tactix, Mystics Storm home over Pulse, NSW Swifts (59) drew with West Coast Fever (59)
It may have been the long socks, but SKYCITY Mystics captain Maria Tutaia certainly inspired her side to a 49-44 victory over the Mojo Pulse to leap to the top of the New Zealand conference.
A quick glance at the scoreboard would indicate a come-from-behind win for the Mystics, as the Pulse led at every quarter break until the finish.
But the entire game was a frenetic see-saw battle, where the Mystics would surge in the first five minutes of each spell, and the Pulse would charge back in the last five.
But it was the Mystics’ confidence and composure in the final stanza – and 90 percent shooting from Tutaia and Cathrine Latu – which ensured they catapulted to the top of the Kiwi ladder.
Tutaia, wearing knee-length white compression socks, got the ball rolling for the home side, who racked up a 3-0 lead before the Pulse replied.
The Mystics were made to work for their scoring opportunities by a fizzing Pulse defence, led by Katrina Grant and Ama Agbeze.
At the opposite end, the Pulse shooters initially didn’t get the same opportunities to even up the score, with wing defence Serena Guthrie all across the midcourt for the Mystics.
But a timeout seemed to reinvigorate the Pulse defence, who scored seven consecutive goals to finally steal the lead.
Ameliaranne Wells, at goal attack, picked up from where she left off last week, dominating the Pulse’s shooting effort, and ensuring they led 13-12 at the end of the first quarter.
Instructed to go out hunting by their coach Debbie Fuller, the Mystic defence pairing of Kayla Cullen and Sulu Tone-Fitzpatrick responded quickly with a string of smart intercepts that put them back on the front foot.
But then some basic errors on attack – under the blowtorch from the Pulse - allowed the visitors back into the running.
The athleticism of Joline Henry and Katrina Grant once again threw the Mystics off-balance at the end of the quarter and they assumed a healthier lead by halftime, 25-22.
In a bid by both sides to try to stamp their authority on the game, there were changes in the line-ups for the start of the third quarter - the Mystics injecting goal keep Temalisi Fakahokotau, who found herself defending the Pulse’s veteran shooter Irene van Dyk.
The unbridled energy and enthusiasm of Fakahokotau made an instant impact, and as the Mystics continued the drive through court - Laura Langman making great connections with Latu – the score levelled out again.
But once again, the Pulse were quick to leap on any error the Mystics made and held on to a 34-32 lead going into the final 15 minutes.
Wells returned to the fray, replacing van Dyk, but she met her match in Fakahokotau.
As the Mystics showed better control and composure, a run of five put them in a commanding position as the clock ticked down.
But as with every quarter in this frenetic match, the Pulse staged another fightback with in the last five minutes. But this time, their run came too late.
Mystics shooting statistics:
Cathrine Latu 28/31 (90%)
Maria Tutaia 21/23 (91%)
Pulse shooting statistics:
Jodi Brown 28/33 (85%)
Irene van Dyk 5/7 (71%)
Ameliaranne Wells 11/17 (65%)
MVP: Serena Guthrie (SKYCITY Mystics)
photo Getty Images