Stars claim win in bruising contest
Delivering an ingenious defensive solution, the Robinhood Stars defeated Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse 49-44 in a low-scoring clash in Wellington.
The win now sees the Stars and Pulse locked up on 22 competition points, with the Auckland side making their run as the Finals Series approaches.
Playing their second game of the weekend, the Stars backed up with plenty of energy for the dramatic last quarter.
The inventive fix to Anna Harrison’s unavailability saw former Silver Fern Leana de Bruin rushed into the Auckland side to partner the brilliant Elle Temu.
De Bruin was making her second league appearance of the 2022 season after an earlier successful comeback for the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic.
De Bruin’s presence inspired the players around her with the Stars defensive unit working cohesively from the whistle. Despite her strong outing, de Bruin’s work was done by halftime and she was replaced by Kayla Johnson.
For the Stars, circle defender Elle Temu, goal attack Amorangi Malesala, and midcourter Mila Reuelu-Buchanan made the difference to split the teams on the scoreboard. But team work across the court was also a factor for the Stars.
Temu grabbed six gains, two intercepts and three deflections, backing up from a superb performance in her side’s win yesterday.
Malesala was brought on for Jamie Hume at goal attack and helped the team gain momentum, scoring eight of her 10 attempts, while Stars shooter Maia Wilson scored 36 from 42.
Both sides started the game with confidence, with the Stars building a two-goal lead at the first quarter break.
With neither side giving an inch, the game was anyone’s at three quarter time with the Stars showing more poise and drive in the last quarter to outscore the Pulse by three goals.
For the Pulse, defender Kelly Jury won 10 gains and four deflections in a stunning individual performance, with Maddy Gordon also coming into strong form at the back of the season.
With a cohesive unit, the Stars are poised for a strong run to the finals with quality players and depth across the court.