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LG Mystics upset Swifts in the ANZ Semi Finals
Playing in their first Finals Series, the LG Mystics continued to rewrite the records when they beat NSW Swifts 49-45 in the sudden-death minor semi-final in Sydney today.
The visitors couldn't have picked a better time to register just their second win in Australia as they controlled the Minor Semi-Final for almost the entire match.
Finishing the regular season in third place, Swifts certainly had their opportunities today but lacked consistency and execution against the Mystics who hardly put a foot wrong.
Finishing in fourth place, the underdog Mystics produced a mostly flawless and methodical team effort on the back of a smothering defensive outing, control on attack and the brilliant shooting of Maria Tutaia and Cathrine Latu.
Mystics will now play the loser of tomorrow's Major Semi-Final between Queensland Firebirds and First Windows Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic in next week's Preliminary Final.
There were no surprises in either starting line-up as the visitors edged their way to the lead after a succession of ebbs and flows during the opening 15 minutes.
The match started at a cracking pace, the home team enjoying the better start with captain Catherine Cox's shooting radar on target as the Swifts took an early three-goal lead.
Both teams showed great ball movement through court, the Mystics helped by the play of Tutaia and Latu, who showed pin-point accuracy under the hoop.
Mystics defenders Anna Scarlett and talented teenager Kayla Cullen put the squeeze on Cox and Susan Pratley as the home team's accuracy went off the boil. Sitting on 94 percent shooting accuracy compared to Swifts' 85 percent Mystics pocketed a 15-11 lead heading into the first break.
It was all Mystics on the resumption, the visitors' exploits on defence making life extra difficult for the Swifts' attackers. Visiting captain Temepara George was in the thick of action, teaming expertly with Joline Henry on the edge of the circle to cut the supply of ball to Cox and Pratley. On attack, she was the guiding influence as the visitors made every post a winner, pouncing on opportunities presented by Swifts turnovers. Tutaia and Latu received a slick service from George and Megan Dehn, the pair in total control of the circle with an almost faultless first half.
Swifts had all sorts of trouble penetrating the midcourt, putting extra pressure on Pratley and Cox as their ball supply dried up while the visitors remained a model of calm and composure, executing with precision as they built into a handy 28-20 halftime lead.
Swifts made wholesale changes for the second half in a desperate bid to improve their drive on attack and garner some momentum. Amy Wild replaced Pratley at goal attack, Mo'onia Gerrard took over from Rebecca Bulley at goal defence and Kim Smith took over the wing defence bib.
Initially, the changes had little effect, Mystics undeterred as their almost impenetrable zone defence paid dividends and the accuracy of Tutaia and Latu helped stretch the lead out to 10. However, Swifts, on the back of a Gerrard steal rebounded back to life as the intensity lifted. Showing more movement on attack, the home team had the better of the quarter, as they reeled the deficit back to four but a late burst left the Mystics in the ascendancy with a 38-31 lead heading down the home straight.
Swifts made the best of starts in a willing final quarter, narrowing the gap to five and threatening on a number of occasions but ultimately were unable to break the efficiency and finishing of the well-drilled Mystics team.