A stunning second-half revival has powered the Northern Mystics to a much-needed victory over the Mainland Tactix in Auckland on Sunday.
After losing their opening six games of the season, the Mystics have now posted successive wins as their campaign begins to gain some traction, albeit most likely far too late.
While the win moves the Mystics into fourth on the ladder, they still have only seven points through eight games – eight points behind the third-placed Northern Stars just past the halfway point of the season.
However, at least they have found some reasons for positivity – most notably the form of 17-year-old shooter Grace Nweke.
Nweke sank 48 of 52 goals in a battle with fellow rising shooter Ellie Bird, who landed 45 of 53 for the Tactix.
Bird had the better of the first half, with Nweke benched early as the Tactix built a 33-24 halftime lead, but the Mystics came storming back with a 19-9 third quarter, and continued their run with a 21-12 final period to clinch a 64-54 victory.
Impressively, an inexperienced teenaged trio in each third of the court – Nweke, midcourter Tayla Earle, and debutant defender Nanise Waqaira – all played key roles in helping drive an impressive come-from-behind win for the Mystics.
After receiving a head knock in the last round, captain Phoenix Karaka spent this match on the sidelines as a precaution, forcing the Mystics into a rejigged line-up.
Shooters Bailey Mes and Jamie Hume got the start ahead of young shooting sensation Nweke, in her first match since becoming a fully-contracted Mystics player.
Erena Mikaere and Michaela Sokolich-Beatson filled the in-circle defensive potions while Earle slotted in at wing defence and Grace Kukutai at centre.
With the Mystics' new-look side taking time to settle, it was the visitors who had the upper hand through the opening stages. The Mystics had their moments as play ebbed and flowed but were largely undone by a lack of accuracy under the hoop, the Tactix hitting the first break with a 14-10 lead.
The introduction of Nweke on the resumption was greeted with a roar of approval from the crowd, but with captain Jane Watson leading the way with several turnovers, the Tactix initially weathered the storm, and extended their lead.
That forced the Mystics into even more changes, which eventually proved pivotal.
Emma Iversen was introduced at wing attack and Mikaere moved to wing defence, but the injection of Waqaira proved a masterstroke.
The 18-year-old proved quite at home at the elite level, disrupting the flow to Bird as the Tactix scoring opportunities dried up.
With Sokolich-Beatson leading the charge in a revitalised defence line, the Mystics piled on the pressure, scoring a succession of goals before levelling up the scores with six minutes to go in the third stanza.
Providing a healthy supply of unstoppable ball into the hands of Nweke, the Mystics turned the game on its head, and eventually cruised away for their second win of the season.