Northern Stars shock Mystics for biggest upset of ANZ Premiership season
The Northern Stars have pulled off the biggest upset of the ANZ Premiership, shocking cross-town rivals the Mystics.
The Stars, the South Auckland-based start up team, came into Wednesday's match with two victories from eight games - both of those coming over the winless Tactix.
But in their best performance of the season, the Stars held their nerve down the stretch to snatch the match 59-53.
The victory represents a huge turnaround for the Stars after losing the first Auckland derby to the Mystics by 14 goals in Manukau.
It also exposed the Mystics on-going inconsistencies, having been slick in their last outing; a 59-55 away win over the Magic in Hamilton.
The loss, their fifth of the season, severely dents Mystics' playoff hopes, leaving them three points behind the third-placed Magic after being unable to secure a bonus point.
The Mystics started well with a five goal run but by the end of the first quarter it was clear the Stars were here to fight.
The turning point came with the Stars pushing Kayla Cullen from midcourt back to the defensive circle. There she teamed up with captain Leana de Bruin, and the pair ramped up pressure on the Silver Ferns shooting combination of Maria Tutaia and Bailey Mes.
Fa'amu Ioane, who nabbed three intercepts, was also strong in the midcourt for the Stars while Maia Wilson, who nailed 37 from 41, carried her team at the attacking end.
Comparatively, Mes had 30/37 and Tutaia 23/29.
The Stars success can also be attributed to minimising turnovers and letting ball go on attack more than they have previously this season.
"I don't know if I have words," de Bruin said. "I'm so proud of the girls. We had our backs against the wall and we wanted to really play for each other - and look what happens when we do.
"We talked about crucial moments when we really needed to score and we did that.
"We can now believe in each other. It's exactly what we needed."
Naturally, the sentiments were not so positive from Mystics captain Anna Harrison.
"Wow. What happened? We weren't getting enough ball on defence. It was physical and we didn't take ourselves out of that enough," Harrison said. "On attack crucial balls, bad decisions again, we didn't have our flow. It just felt like a really messy, laboured game. We need to go away from this and have some big learnings."