Magic find winning rhythm against Stars
It may have taken a little time, but the Splice Construction Magic finally found their tempo - ousting the Northern Stars, 57-51, in front of an appreciative home crowd in Hamilton tonight.
After their first-up loss to The Good Oil Tactix on Super Sunday, the Magic assumed control gradually, dominating the second half against a Stars side who couldn’t replicate their giant-killing performance from the day before.
While both sides were in the reckoning with 15 minutes to go, the Magic’s defence shook up the Stars’ shooters to dominate the final quarter, 15-10.
But it was the consistency of the Magic’s young attacking line-up that really stood out throughout the game, with 89 percent shooting accuracy (especially Abigail Latu-Meafou – the game’s MVP - who shot 34 from 37).
A disjointed start by the two sides proved how determined both were to take early control.
Keeper, Kelly Jury, used her long reach to help put the Magic out to a two-goal advantage. Ariana Cable-Dixon’s vision also set up her shooters perfectly under the post.
A spectacular intercept, followed by a rebound, for Stars wing defence Kayla Cullen broke the Magic’s hold on the lead, and with the sure long-range shooting of Aussie import Charlee Hodges, the Stars leapt out to four ahead.
The Magic dragged it back to two down, 15-13, at the first break, and continued in the same rhythm to start the quarter and quickly draw equal. Goal shoot Abigail Latu-Meafou, fresh from two seasons in the Australian Super League, was in confident touch, working in tandem with the wily Monica Falkner, who also enjoyed strong shooting form.
But it was a see-saw spell, with the Stars pulling out to four, and the Magic bringing it back to lead by one. Then with two goals from Maia Wilson just before halftime, the Stars assumed the upper hand, 31-30, to end the half.
With a strong bench and a need for fresh legs, Stars coach Kiri Wills brought in Ellen Halpenny at goal attack and Holly Fowler at wing defence. Although both fitted in seamlessly, the change didn’t give the Stars a second wind, and the Magic edged ahead again, albeit by one.
Casey Kopua poured the pressure on Wilson, to upset her collection of the long passes, which allowed the Magic to stay in control. A goal on the buzzer from Latu-Meafou assured the Magic finally led at the end of a quarter, 42-41.
The changes kept coming for the Stars, with Cullen returning to the court at goal defence, but the Magic stood firm. With Sam Sinclair and Jury, in particular, forcing the Stars into a series of handling errors, and Latu-Meafou and Falkner untiring, the Magic extended their lead to seven and never let the Stars back in.