The Kia Magic produced a huge fightback, but ultimately came up short in last night's ANZ Championship semifinal against the NSW Swifts.
The 60-52 defeat at Claudelands Arena in Hamilton brought their campaign to an end and hinged on an error-ridden second quarter which they lost 17-6.
As a result New Zealand sides will not feature in the transtasman league grand final for the third straight year after the Mystics' play-off run also came to an end in yesterday's semifinals.
The Firebirds will now host the Swifts in next week's title clash in Brisbane " the fifth straight week the NSW side have been on the road.
The Magic, with the exception of that disastrous second quarter, gave visiting coach Rob Wright some cause for anxiety as the hosts clawed their way back from a 31-21 deficit at halftime, to trail 42-40 heading into the final spell.
But the Swifts surged ahead in the final quarter as the change of ends brought the shooters back under the rule of New Zealand umpire Jono Bredin, which proved to be the scoring end. The difference in umpiring interpretations between Bredin and Australian umpire Rachael Ayre was stark, leading to a massive swing in scoring, with 69 goals scored down the Kiwi official's end, compared to 43 at the Australian end.
While disappointed her side's season had come to an end, Magic captain Leana de Bruin said she was pleased her side again showed the fighting qualities they have become known for this season.
"It's been a long season, there's been a lot of up and downs, but we showed we could keep up with them, it was just that last quarter and the second quarter that let us down," said de Bruin.
The Magic have shown resilience in spades this season, fighting their way into the finals for the eighth straight year despite being forced to field a young and inexperienced side after a number of injury setbacks.
Two gutsy wins over the Steel (71-69) and the Mystics (57-54) in the New Zealand conference finals further galvanised the Magic, giving them strong confidence heading into last night's semifinal clash.
They had every reason to remain confident after a tight opening spell, with the Magic held a narrow 15-14 lead at the first break courtesy of a long-range penalty shot from Jo Harten with time up on the clock.
But that lead was shortlived, with a disastrous second quarter.
Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic 52 (Jo Harten 39, Ellen Halpenny 9, Malia Paseka 4) NSW Swifts 60 (Caitlin Thwaites 33 Susan Pettitt 27). NZME.