Cathrine Latu stars as Mystics dominate Tactix
Silver Ferns shooter Cathrine Latu put on another scoring clinic as the Northern Mystics proved party poopers at the home-court hurrah for Canterbury Tactix stalwarts Maree Bowden and Anna Galvan.
The two former Ferns from Christchurch were hoping to go out on a high but it was Debbie Fuller's Mystics who rose to rarefied heights at the top of the ANZ Championship table after their 64-55 triumph over the Canterbury cellar dwellers.
The Tactix saved their best till last, winning the final quarter 18-12 but this was another chapter in the Cathrine Latu show.
Latu who had been shooting at a stratospheric 97.5 per cent before last night, was heading for another perfect game until she missed with her final shot after 45 unerring attempts. Little wonder Silver Ferns management were salivating over the 25-year-old's test allegiance switch from Samoa.
Bowden, 32, and Galvan, 33, are hanging up their bibs at the end of the campaign and they got a suitable sendoff from the loyal, if long-suffering, thunderstick-clanking CBS Canterbury faithful.
Captain Bowden did her level best to diminish Silver Ferns star Temepara George's dominance, never giving up in a beaten cause .Tactix shooter Jo Harten with 37 goals from 49 attempts and defender Stacey Francis produced wholehearted efforts and there was real red-and-black resolve in the last quarter.
Tactix coach Leigh Gibbs proved a misty-eyed sentimentalist by injecting Galvan for the second half for the hard-working Bessie Manu.
Galvan swiftly showed her experience to thwart Mystic goal attack Maria Tutaia. But make no mistake, this was the northerners' night.
The Mystics stamped an early mark with the impish, imperious George and Jade Clarke providing mid-court craft and zip to set up Latu, who sunk all 13 first-quarter shots.
Fern Anna Harrison _ unhoisted _ produced a towering leap to grab a Tactix shot and create a quick counter-attack for the Mystics, which Latu turned into another point at the opposite end of the court.
The score steadily mounted But the Tactix rallied after the second of two first-quarter timeouts to chip away at the northerners' lead.
The crowd were in overdrive as the Tactix fought back to 11-10 but the Mystics recovered their poise with Latu showing her steely nerve and steady hand whenever a scoring opportunity presented itself.
Down 12-17 at the first break, the Tactics could not afford a slow start in the second stanza. But it was all over red rover when the Mystics scored seven unanswered points to lead 24-12.
Latu had a 100 per cent record at halftime with 24 successful shots but her fellow international Maria Tutaia was astray with 13 of 19 first half attempts.
The Galvan-ised Tactix tried gamely to close the gap in the third quarter but the Mystics maintained an impregnable 52-37 lead before the Tactix showed the sort of spirit which could yet ensure they avoid the dreaded wooden spoon.
Northern Mystics 64 (Cathrine Latu 45/46, Maria Tutaia 16/23, Grace Rasmussen 3/5)
Canterbury Tactix 55 (Jo Harten 37/49, Ellen Halfpenny 18/25).
Quarter Scores: 1st: Mystics 17 Tactix 12. 2ND: 37-24. 3rd: 52-37. 4th:
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