Southern Steel come from behind, beat Magic
The Southern Steel put a shocking first quarter behind them to shock the competition-leading Magic in Invercargill tonight.
Playing in front of a big ILT Stadium Southland crowd, the Steel banked their first win in four starts at their rebuilt home venue, with a come-from-behind 62-57 win that cost the Magic the chance of taking an outright lead in the trans-Tasman league.
Steel vice-captain Wendy Frew celebrated her 75th game in style as her team turned in its best performance at home this season. Bessie Manu made a pest of herself from wing defence early as the Magic shut down the midcourt and forced the Steel into taking risks getting the ball into their shooting circle.
With that sort of pressure, the international pairing of Casey Kopua and Leana de Bruin were only too happy to snatch away anything which came loose.
The scrap between de Bruin and Jhaniele Fowler-Reid was a beauty, a world-class contest between two of the best players in their position.
For once Fowler-Reid was not able to boss the arc she's most comfortable in near the post, with de Bruin able to attack the ball in the air from in front and from behind, and Fowler-Reid's usually safe mitts let her down on a couple of occasions in the opening quarter.
The Magic attack looked classy with Grace Rasmussen working the circle edge well and finding Jo Harten with some nice angles.
The Steel were able to force turnovers of their own, but they weren't always able to score off them and by the end of the first quarter they were already down by six.
The Steel rallied in the second quarter, Storm Purvis becoming a factor at goal keep and Jodi Brown carrying more of a load in the shooting circle as the home team cut the deficit to three at halftime.
That momentum continued after the break, with the Steel scoring the first five goals of the second half to take the lead.
Even when the Magic struck back to reclaim the lead at 40-39 with just under five minutes left in the quarter, the Steel were able to regain their nerve and take a two goal lead into the final quarter on the back of a buzzer-beating long-range effort by Brown.
With Phoenix Karaka picking up some fruit of her own for the Steel, the young home defenders were challenging the Silver Ferns incumbents at the other end of the court in terms of their influence on the game, even forcing a rare held ball call on goal attack Ellen Halpenny as she was lining up the shot.
Holding their lead midway through the final quarter, Phillipa Finch claimed a vital intercept to help the Steel out to a four goal advantage and they were able to extend that in strong finish which had the home crowd on its feet in celebration.
Quarter scores (Steel first) 11-17, 28-31, 45-43, 62-57,