The Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic have pumped new life into their finals bid by defeating the Southern Steel in Rotorua.
The Magic bet the Steel 58-52 in an ANZ Championship match at the Energy Events Centre last night, consolidating their place in the top four with only three rounds remaining until the finals.
The first quarter was hotly contested, with the physical dominance of Steel goal shoot Jhaniele Fowler continually denting the Magic defence.
However, Magic centre Laura Langman produced her usual workload and helped her side keep the scores close at the end of the first quarter, with the Steel leading 16-14.
In the early part of the second quarter, Steel centre Phillipa Finch formed an impressive connection with her attacking three players, who were relentless in attack.
The top points scorer in the league, Fowler continued to mark her dominance on the game guiding her side to a 28-22 lead before a time-out was called midway through the quarter.
After the quick break, things started going right for the Magic defence, with their mid courters and defenders frustrating the Steel offence.
Meanwhile, Irene van Dyk proved there was no substitute for height, getting the better of her defender, Storm Pervis, on a number of occasions.
When the teams went to the half time break, the Magic had battled well to be only two points behind, 30-28.
The packed-out Energy Events Centre was rocking in the third quarter when the Magic finally took the lead shortly after the break.
A heavy collision with the goalpost could not deter van Dyk from her high-percentage shooting.
However, the big Jamaican Fowler was matching her every point at the other end of the court.
By the end of the third quarter, it was the Magic who found themselves marginally on top, 43-41.
Magic goal attack Ellen Halpenny made a couple of crucial shots early in the fourth quarter to keep the Magic's lead alive. The Rotorua crowd acted like an eighth player for the Magic, with every turnover and any decision either cheered or booed with immense volume.
The Magic started to dominate with about 10 minutes to go, forcing turnovers and shooting clinically.
When the Steel finally called a time-out, they found themselves seven points behind.
When they returned to the court it was evident they had a mountain to climb to pull the game back.
Meanwhile, Langman continued to provide great ball to her shooters, who did not look like missing.
It seemed as if Halpenny and van Dyk were in their own world in the last few minutes, nailing every opportunity they had to close out the game.
In the end, the Magic claimed a big victory, winning the game by six points.