A seven-goal third quarter blitz from the Northern Mystics looks to have powered them into a New Zealand conference elimination final next weekend* against the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic in the ANZ championship.
The addition of Michaela Sokolich-Beatson and Temalisi Fakahokotau at the Mystics' defensive end produced a powerplay at Trusts Arena in Auckland. The hosts moved to a 36-29 advantage over the Mainland Tactix after being up 29-28 at halftime.
They eventually triumphed 62-54, spoiling the Tactix chances of making their maiden playoffs.
Mystics captain Maria Tutaia spoke of a determination not to "sieve" goals in the third quarter; Tactix skipper Anna Thompson confessed to too many turnovers which saw them play "catch-up".
The Mystics moved to seven points on the table, leaving the Tactix level with the Pulse on five.
Fakahokotau delivered raw grunt, even demonstrating a willingness to wrestle for the ball on the ground as her passion was laid bare. Getting clipped by Fakahokotau must feel like a glancing blow from a concrete thunderstick. Best to waltz clear on her dance floor.
Tactix wing defence Hayley Saunders provided early impetus threading the ball through to the attacking end like a silk ribbon. That unraveled as the Mystics seized their moment in the third stanza. Throws started to fly around as erratically as those at an NBA halftime fan engagement segment. The Tactix also lost the penalty count 59-44.
Tutaia's willingness to shoot from beyond 2.5m added to the Mystics' benefit.
She was accurate, particularly in front, which stretched the Tactix defence and offered Cathrine Tuivaiti more space under the rim.
The Mystics shot 15 from 19 out wide, compared to the Tactix's two from four. In the inner circle it was 47 goals from 49 attempts for the hosts, compared to 52 from 55 for the visitors.
*The Central Pulse could make the elimination final if they beat the Melbourne Vixens by a margin of 47 goals on Monday night.