Magic defeat Mystics 50-36 to take second win
No Laura Langman, no problem for the Magic.
The Waikato-Bay of Plenty side have made it two wins from as many starts to open their trans-Tasman league campaign in real style, after beating the Northern Mystics in Auckland tonight.
Following on from their dismantling of the Mainland Tactix in round one, the Magic powered over the Mystics for a 50-36 win at The Trusts Arena.
It was another excellent display from a team which has gone through a massive rebuild and was considered a rank outsider for this year.
The match was the first time Langman lined up against the Magic - the team she spent 11 years with - while the Mystics lineup also featured 2013 Magic players Jodi Tod-Elliott, Jessica Tuki and Nadia Loveday, and the Magic had Grace Rasmussen facing her old comrades.
And it was the new-look Magic which took the honours, after another encouraging display under new Australian coach Julie Fitzgerald.
The defensive pressure from Casey Kopua and Leana de Bruin shattered the confidence of their Silver Ferns team-mates Maria Tutaia and Cathrine Latu, as the Mystics shooters again crumbled under the hoop, just like in round one against the Vixens.
The home side put up one more shot than the Magic, with captain Tutaia shooting a dismal 13/22, having been rattled early in the first quarter with a couple of held-ball calls, while Latu (8/11) was just as ineffective, giving away silly contact penalties to gift the Magic the lion's share of possession.
At the other end of the court, it was another encouraging display from Jo Harten (30/31) and Ellen Halpenny (20/27).
While the Magic are two from two on the road, with seven of their remaining 11 matches at home, it should be remembered that the two teams they have beaten so far were the bottom two sides from last year.
There is still plenty to work on as well, with combinations still coming together, which is also an encouraging sign that things could get even better.
Both teams were as guilty as each other with their inability to treasure possession, with plenty of balls flying out of court.
The Magic did show patience, and pass the ball backwards to re-set and open up the court, but they did get airy-fairy at times with their delivery.
But another outing together for the midcourt of Rasmussen, Courtney Tairi and Bessie Manu will do them the world of good.
Having had a slight advantage throughout, the Magic were able to open up a very handy 13-7 lead by quartertime.
With something needing to be done to sway the momentum, Mystics coach Debbie Fuller introduced Loveday at wing attack in place of Erikana Pederson midway through the second period, but the Magic got out to a nine-goal buffer and then went to halftime up 23-16.
The visitors then made a massive statement straight after the break, going on a 5-0 run as the Mystics' defence was torn to shreds and was just left open-mouthed gazing at Harten and Halpenny doing their thing.
At 31-17 the hosts called a timeout, and Fitzgerald gave assistant Margaret Forsyth a smile, knowing that their team couldn't have been in a much better position.
With the situation dire, Fuller pulled Latu off, replaced by Bailey Mes (15/23), and handed a debut to 19-year-old Temalisi Fakahokotau in place of Tuki at goal keep.
The latter provided fine impact and made a nuisance of herself as the Mystics narrowed the margin to seven, before Harten sunk to give the Magic a 34-26 three-quartertime lead.
De Bruin needed attention to her hip in the third quarter, but was alright to carry on, and she and Kopua ended with 10 rebounds between them, as they picked up so much more ball than their counterparts.
The Magic now look forward to playing in front of their home crowd, with their next match against the Southern Steel in Hamilton next Monday night, while the Mystics host the Central Pulse on Sunday night.