The Northern Mystics sealed a decisive victory against the Northern Stars in Auckland to propel themselves to the top of the ANZ Premiership table with only four rounds of the regular season left.
The 65-57 win was helped by yet another outstanding shooting performance from Grace Nweke, who more than held her own against veteran Stars defender Anna Harrison to net 55 goals from 59 attempts.
The much-anticipated Auckland clash saw the teams go nearly goal for goal in the first half despite consistent efforts from both sides' on-form defensive duos, but the Stars' superior possession gave them a one-goal lead at halftime.
However, a flustered Stars attack allowed the Mystics to dominate in the third quarter, helped by the injection of former England international Ama Agbeze into the defensive end, enabling them to take a four-goal lead going into the fourth.
A tireless Mystics side continued their strong performance to dominate the final 15 minutes, forcing the usually disciplined Stars into errors.
A late Stars surge aided by Elle Temu's impressive defensive plays failed to come in time to give the hosts any chance of holding off the Mystics' conclusive eight-goal win.
Mystics captain Sulu Fitzpatrick wasn't taking the win lightly, instead turning her attention to this week's clash which will see the two sides meet again in Auckland
"The scoreline doesn't reflect how hard the game was," Fitzpatrick said. "I know they're going to come at us again next week."
Stars captain Maia Wilson was optimistic despite the loss that toppled her side from the top of the table, also looking towards next week's game as an opportunity to improve on their latest performance.
"I feel like there is so much more for us to grow and we can come back and be better," Wilson said.
The two sides meet again on Sunday at Trusts Arena, where the Stars will have a chance to reclaim top spot.
The Southern Steel host the Waikato Bay-of Plenty Magic tomorrow night, while Tuesday's match between the Central Pulse and Mainland Tactix has been postponed due to the extension of Wellington's Level 2 Covid-19 status.