The Northern Mystics have fended off a late surge from the Southern Steel to claim their first win of the ANZ Premiership season, beating the southerners 64-58.
After subpar shooting percentages saw them suffer a four-goal loss to the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic in the opening round, there were no such issues for the Mystics this time around. Goal shoot Grace Nweke was on song throughout the contest, missing just four of her 60 shot attempts, while goal attack Bailey Mes lifted her success rate from 60 per cent to 89 on her limited shot attempts.
A seven-goal run midway through the opening quarter set the Mystics up nicely on home court in Auckland, leading 19-11 after the first 15 minutes. They extended that lead from eight goals to nine at halftime, giving the Steel plenty of work to do in the second half.
The Steel showed in their opening round win over the heavily favoured Mainland Tactix that they were not to be counted out, and began their fightback. But while they were able to go on small runs of two or three goals throughout the second half, the success of the Mystics shooters ultimately kept the Mystics far enough ahead to go on and take a strong 64-58 win.
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While Steel goal shoot George Fisher impressed by making all 42 of her shot attempts, the Steel paid for turning the ball over and, in the end, only put up 63 shots – six fewer than the Mystics.
The result means last year's finalists, the Tactix and the Central Pulse, are the only two teams without a win in the early stages after the duo dropped their first-round clashes to the Steel and Northern Stars.
They'll have their chance to get on the board tomorrow, with the Tactix meeting the Northern Stars in Auckland, while the Pulse travel to Hamilton to take on the Magic.