The Northern Mystics have improved their chances of making the ANZ Premiership finals after decisively defeating the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic 62-44 at Auckland's Trusts Arena.
Banking another two points to level themselves with the Mainland Tactix at 17 apiece, the Mystics will need to take full advantage of their final fixture against the Central Pulse next Wednesday night in order to make the playoffs.
The Mystics' 18-goal margin of victory is notable too - they now jump into third, ahead of the Tactix on goal difference, with Tactix playing their final game against the Magic on Monday. The Tactix will be favoured to clinch the third and final spot in the playoffs, but if the Mystics can upset the Pulse, tonight's victory will have been a vital win for their playoff hopes.
Meanwhile, the Magic, who were in contention for a playoffs spot just a few weeks ago, have found themselves caught in a downward spiral.
After losing their influential captain Casey Kopua and Silver Ferns defender Kelly Jury to season-ending injuries, the Magic have lacked direction, suffering their fifth-straight defeat.
Opening the match with fast-paced play, however, the Magic looked briefly promising. Stand-in captain Sam Sinclair ignited her side with passion and tenacity while the accurate Lenize Potgieter remained in near-faultless form under the hoop.
But with Mystics golden girl Maria Folau back in the shooting circle for her seventh game of the season, the Northerners inevitably took control of the match.
Mystics captain Anna Harrison was in sublime form as she led her defensive unit for the last time in front of a home stadium crowd ahead of her retirement. Harrison's towering presence started to cause problems for the Magic shooters as Potgieter became hesitant and the young Monica Falkner was left to fight for space in the circle.
Surging ahead in the second quarter, the Mystics widened their lead to a more promising seven goals as the Magic struggled to keep up. Filling the big shoes of Kopua, Katherine Levien faced her biggest test yet as the young defender fought hard to contain the in-form Folau. And as the home side held their ground, there was little the Magic could do to turn things around.
Keeping calm under the pressure of their persistent visitors, the Mystics soared ahead to deliver a passionate home crowd that winning feeling for the last time this season.
The Northern Stars will tip off the final round on Sunday afternoon when they face the Southern Steel on home ground at Takanini's Pulman Arena.
The Stars are likely to finish at the bottom of the ladder after a rocky season with only three wins from 14 games so far.