The Northern Mystics have failed in their bid to qualify directly to the final of the ANZ Championship when losing 56-50 to the Vixens in the major semifinal in Melbourne today.
The loss was a blow to the Mystics, who failed to repeat their round-robin success against the Vixens in Melbourne, the first time they revealed the "Harrison Hoist'' defensive strategy.
They still have a chance to qualify for a rematch, however, as they play the winner of tomorrow night's game at Claudelands Arena, Hamilton, between the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic and the Adelaide Thunderbirds.
The Auckland side began well thanks to the accurate shooting of Cathrine Latu and Maria Tutaia. They led 15-11 after the first quarter and increased it slightly to head into halftime 29-24 up but the expected fightback from the home side came in the third quarter, the Vixens drawing level 40-40 and setting the match up for a grandstand finish at the Rod Laver Arena.
The fourth quarter was a procession, though, the Vixens quickly going out to a three-goal lead and the Magic failing to recover. Turnovers were costly for the visitors, who were well served by Latu and Tutaia. They shot 30/32 and 20/23 respectively.
Their opposites, Karyn Howarth and Tegan Caldwell, were successful with 33/40 and 23/26 respectively.
The Vixens, who finished the regular season on top of the table, will be hard to beat at home in the grand final. Madison Browne, the Vixens centre, said: "To have the home crowd screaming for you... but we just have so much belief in each other we've just got to play our own game - but with them behind us we can do anything.''