As far as halftime entertainment goes, you couldn't get any more fitting than the "panic room" radio station promotion during the Mystics loss to the Pulse last night.
Panic was likely to be the prevailing mood in the Mystics dressing room after match as well after the Auckland side slumped to their third straight ANZ Championship loss at Trusts Stadium, leaving the star-studded line-up reeling at the bottom of the table. With two tough matches against Australian sides in the coming weeks, this Mystics side that looks so promising on paper won't even be in the hunt for a play-offs spot if they can't produce a remarkable turnaround in the next seven days.
Having been completely outclassed in their opening two matches, Mystics defender Julie Corletto took some comfort that at least last night's effort was much improved on their earlier outings. Ten goals down mid-way through the third period, a rousing final quarter fightback put the Pulse under real pressure down the stretch - with perhaps a little bit of panic setting in on the visiting team bench for a period there as well as the Auckland side closed within three goals. But the wily Pulse side regained their composure in the final five minutes, with veteran shooter Donna Wilkins and crafty midcourter Joline Henry particularly instrumental in settling the side with some big plays.
Corletto, who was locked in a ferocious battle with Wilkins all night, said the intensity shown in the final quarter is something they need to produce for 60 minutes.
"It's obviously so disappointing and disheartening to lose another game, but there are a lot of things we can take from this game and build on for next week - and we have to," she said.
After two horror shooting performances in the opening rounds, Cathrine Latu and Maria Tutaia had their radars back on, returning numbers we are more accustomed to seeing from the Silver Ferns duo. But their volume remains a concern, indicating a problem further up the supply chain.
Despite a blockbusting start from 19-year old defender Temalisi Fakahokotau, who stamped her mark on the game early by plucking a long ball into Irene van Dyk - over 20 years her senior - out of the air, the Mystics could not seem to find their rhythm, finding themselves chasing from the outset. A lapse in concentration from the Pulse towards the end of the quarter let the home side back in it, as a late penalty gave Tutaia a chance to bring the scoreline back to one at the first break.
The momentum stayed with the home side in the early stages of the second period, before a Pulse injury break six minutes before halftime gave Robyn Broughton the opportunity to get her side back on task to snatch a 26-22 lead at the long break.
In the hunt at halftime for the first time this season, the Mystics lost their way shortly after the break as the collective pressure of the Pulse defensive unit resulted in a dramatic climb in the home side's error count. By mid-way through the period the deficit had stretched out to 10 for the Mystics, prompting a time-out and a re-think at both ends of the court, with Erikana Pedersen introduced at wing attack, while Jess Tuki was handed the goal keep bib.
The changes sparked a mini come-back from the Mystics, but at 42-34 down heading into the final turn, the Pulse still looked very comfortable.
The Mystics had other ideas however, finding the spark on attack they had been lacking all night to surge back to within three of the visitors.