Big shock as Mystics down the Thunderbirds
The Northern Mystics have pulled off an almost unimaginable upset by beating last year's trans-Tasman champions, the Adelaide Thunderbirds, 71-68 in a thrilling game in Auckland tonight.
The win in extra time, the Mystics' first of the championship, continues a weekend of upsets in the league.
The Thunderbirds were overwhelming favourites going into the game at Trusts Arena having won their past 16 games, including last year's championship final.
The Mystics, who going into the game were winless after three rounds and without a win in 11 games, were all but written off.
But no-one told them and the team seemed to pick up a new energy through the return of experienced defender Anna Harrison.
Harrison, who hasn't played at this level since November 2012, was all over Thunderbirds shooters Erin Bell and Carla Borrego and there were glimpses of the Harrison Hoist.
Harrison said she was "blimmin nervous" before the game but once she got out there it was "just like old times".
There was a torrid battle in the centre of the court with Silver Fern stalwart Laura Langman having a proper arm wrestle with her opposite number Renae Hallinan before the Thunderbird was subbed just before half time.
The Mystics' power players, the shooting duo of Catherine Latu and Maria Tutaia, were almost perfectly accurate and held their nerve at the end of the game.
This was passion not seen from the Mystics in many a game. To be able to hold on through 60 minutes of regular play and then put the nail in the coffin during 14 minutes of extra time was something special.
The first quarter was tight with the teams largely going goal for goal until the Thunderbirds lifted and the Mystics seemed powerless to prevent them from doing so. The Thunderbirds' shooters were less accurate but had more shots on goal.
The score quickly blew out in the second quarter with the Mystics players failing to adapt to the umpires and being heavily penalised. The Thunderbirds too were grabbing intercepts at an alarmingly high rate before the Mystics rallied to level the game at half time.
The Thunderbirds' defence was too strong in the third quarter and the Mystics appeared to tire, before pushing close again at the end of the quarter.
The Mystics took the lead, by just one point, for the first time at the end of the fourth quarter and the crowd thought they had it until the Thunderbirds managed to sneak a goal in before the end.
Two extra seven-minute halves saw the teams swap the lead a number of times before the cool heads off the Mystics' shooters saw them home.
Quarter scores: Thunderbirds 15/12; 26/26; Thunderbirds 41/41; 56/56. Extra time 1: Thunderbirds 64/63; Extra time 2 Mystics 71/68.