Tactix stun Mystics in Auckland to keep ANZ Premiership playoff hopes alive
At Trusts Arena, Auckland:
Mystics 49 (Monica Falkner 18/20, Filda Vui 28/35, Grace Namana 3/4) Tactix 54 (Ellie Bird 34/35, Te Paea Selby-Rickit 20/22) 1Q: 13-13, HT: 25-27, 3Q: 37-42.
At ILT Stadium Southland:
Southern Steel 49 (George Fisher 39/41, Georgia Heffernan 10/20, Kiana Pelasio 0/1) Central Pulse 59 (Aliyah Dunn 44/45, Tiana Metuarau 14/16, Amelia Walmsley 1/1). 1Q: 10-14, HT: 24-30, 3Q: 37-46.
The Tactix have pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the ANZ Premiership season, defeating the Mystics 54-49 at Trusts Arena in Auckland on Saturday.
It was the third time these two teams had faced each other this season, with the Mystics comfortably winning the previous encounters.
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In Saturday’s other Premiership clash, the Central Pulse defeated the Southern Steel 59-49 in Invercargill on the back of an excellent shooting display.
Aliyah Dunn missed just one of her 45 shots at goal while goal attack Tiana Metuarau added 14 from 16 to help the Pulse narrow the gap at the top of the table on the Mystics.
George Fisher was also highly accurate for the hosts, netting 39 of her 41 attempts, but the visitors jumped out to an early lead and rarely looked like getting pegged back and had Shannon Saunders sent from the court late in the final quarter for a second offence.
The Mystics had only lost three of their 12 games going into this rearranged fixture, while the Tactix had won just four of 11, but those records were meaningless as Tactix coach Marianne Delaney-Hoshek masterminded a superb win for her team to boost their title chances.
The Mystics’ star shooter Grace Nweke was out with an ankle injury, which would have given the Tactix more hope than usual to knock off the table-topping team.
Those hopes would have been raised higher as the Tactix jumped out to an early 4-1 lead.
But the Mystics eventually got into their groove at both ends of the court and led 13-10 just before the end of the opening period, although two late goals from Ellie Bird and one from Te Paea Selby-Rickit squared the scores up at 13-13 at the first break.
Without being able to utilise the physical attributes of Nweke, the Mystics adopted different tactics on attack, using speedy passes and quick footwork to create space, rather than lobbing up high balls.
But communication was sometimes lacking and with Tactix centre Kimiora Poi stepping up, the visitors had a 27-25 lead at halftime and held that five-point advantage going into the final quarter.
The Mystics never looked like mounting a comeback over the final 15 minutes and with Ellie Bird, who scored 33 goals from 34 attempts overall, keeping the scoreboard ticking over for the Tactix, although not enough to rob their opponents of a bonus point.
The away win for the Pulse drew them within six points of the Mystics with a game in hand and looking forward to meeting the Tactix in Wellington on Monday night, while the pressure is mounting on the Steel as thy stayed six points behind the Stars in fourth spot.
There’s no rest for the Mystics, who play again on Sunday, making the short trip to Pulman Arena to take on the Stars.