It came down to the last 20 seconds of the game but the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic have again been cruelly denied a win in round 14 of the ANZ Premiership.
The game against the Mainland Tactix was the third meeting between the two teams this season, the Tactix winning the first two by four and 17 goals respectively but the Magic managed to limit the margin to two in Rotorua on Sunday evening, falling at the last hurdle to award the Tactix a 49-47 win.
The Magic had the chance to tie the scores with 20 seconds left, thanks to the tenacity of young shooter Khiarna Williams, who had a quiet game in the circle by her standards, only slotting 7/12 but playing more of a supporting role in the midcourt.
Williams got her hands to the ball twice in a row with the score sitting at 48-47 to the Tactix but a challenging ball to captain Sam Winders was snatched off her by Tactix wing defence Charlotte Elley and the Tactix treasured possession, scoring on the final buzzer, much to the relief of the Mainland side.
It looked like another heavy defeat was on the cards for the Magic early on, when the Tactix went up 8-3 but a five-goal run brought them back into the game, and two quick goals before quarter-time meant the Magic took a two-goal advantage into the break.
From there, the lead changed hands multiple times, the inclusion of Erikana Pedersen at wing attack for the Tactix sparking a comeback in the second quarter.
Caitlin Bassett was a standout for the Magic, showing the form that earned her 102 international caps for Australia. She shot at 95 per cent, her only two misses from 42 attempts coming late in the fourth quarter.
The Magic were up by two heading into the last nine minutes of the game when wing attack Grace Kara landed and twisted awkwardly and went to the bench for treatment.
Jane Watson and Karin Burger leapt on the chance to disrupt the Magic's attack, scoring four unanswered goals while Kara was off the court.
Magic captain Sam Winders reflected on the Magic's tough season after being dealt their 13th consecutive loss.
"We were right there ... definitely done the hard mahi but, man, that is our season thus far, we have struggled to get across that line in the end. And yeah, I can be really proud of them, but we don't come out here and play to get second every week.
"It's a high-performance environment, somebody's gotta lose but you get damned sick of it. Proud of the girls, though, of course."
In the other match of the night, the Northern Mystics secured a place in the ANZ Premiership Grand Final with a 56-54 win over the Central Pulse.