The Northern Stars' brief winning streak has come to an end after being decisively defeated by the Central Pulse in round 11 of the ANZ Premiership.
After reeling off two straight wins to jump off the bottom of the ladder, the Stars struggled to shake the formidable force of the Pulse, going down 65-50 in front of a home crowd at Takanini's Pulman Arena.
Stars English import and match MVP Ama Agbeze said the result was frustrating.
"The game was lost in the first quarter, the Pulse are a team that will capitalise on every error so you can't go down in the first quarter and expect to win," Agbeze said.
"You can't make that many errors against that team … you have to be either with them or ahead of them."
Pulse captain Katrina Grant and defender Sulu Fitzpatrick were quick to assert their dominance in the Stars' shooting circle as the defending duo's presence made for a hesitant performance from the Northern shooters.
Some first quarter nerves from Stars shooter Maia Wilson handed the visitors an early lead as Pulse super shooter Aliyah Dunn continued to shine.
Dunn found good connection with Silver Ferns midcourter Whitney Souness, who led her side from the circle edge, as the Pulse surged ahead to lead the clash by five goals.
The Stars looked determined in the second quarter as they desperately tried to claw back lost ground on the scoreboard.
Clever defensive tactics from Agbeze and Kate Burley gave the Northerners valuable opportunities to score. However, faced by a stealthy Pulse defensive unit, the Stars midcourt struggled to successfully get the ball to their shooters as the scoreline widened significantly.
The Stars' midcourt continued to struggle in the third quarter as the home side lacked assertion and passion. And with the absence of injured Fa'amu Ioane's tenacious spirit on the court, the Northerners fell flat as the Pulse dominated.
Uncharacteristic errors from the visitors in the final stages of the third quarter saw the Stars snatch a number of opportunities to score while they teased their potential of a comeback to a hopeful home crowd.
But as the Pulse continued to surge ahead in the final stanza of the clash, with Dunn and Silver Ferns shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio leading their side to one of the highest scores in the season so far, it was too little too late for the home side.
This afternoon's results will see no changes to the Premiership ladder with the Stars stuck in fifth and the Pulse ahead of the pack at the top of the leaderboard.
The Southern Steel will play the Mainland Tactix tomorrow night at Invercargill's ILT Stadium Southland.
A win for the Tactix will be crucial if the Mainlanders wish to further secure their third-placed spot ahead of the playoffs.