Stars out-muscle Magic in Tauranga
An explosive third quarter set up a comfortable 57-47 win for the Northern Stars in a bruising clash against Splice Construction Magic to close out Round 5 in Tauranga.
With the score tied at halftime, the Stars burst out of the blocks in an emphatic style with a rampant third quarter to break the game open in their favour after out-scoring their opponents 16-5.
The Magic, celebrating 20 years of the joint Waikato/Bay of Plenty partnership as a club and wearing the colours of their original strip to mark it, had little to cheer about after producing an even spectacle during the first half before falling off the pace.
Goal shoot Kelsey McPhee earned her first start of the season for the Magic while the Stars welcomed back key midcourt link Temepara Bailey after she missed last week through injury.
It was a confident and purposeful Stars who got away to a strong start before the Magic settled with an entertaining and tight contest ensuing.
Both teams played at a fast clip, the respective experienced defensive ends playing a strong hand in proceedings, with the Magic chipping away at the deficit to get the contest back on an even keel.
Shooter Maia Wilson continued her impressive start to the season while guiding the Stars to a narrow 16-15 lead at the end of a high-scoring first quarter.
The Stars introduced goalkeeper Kate Burley for Storm Purvis on the resumption but it was the Magic who had all the early momentum.
With home defenders Kelly Jury and Casey Kopua getting under the skin of the Stars shooters, the Magic secured the first four goals of the stanza while taking over the lead.
Showing more confidence on attack with their early ball release into the impressive McPhee, Magic found more flow and accuracy and an easier passage into the circle.
Rocked onto the back foot, the Stars lost a little of their composure with Magic taking full advantage while bursting out to a healthy lead.
That was quickly undone when a resurgent Stars made a spirited comeback to leave the scores locked up at 28-all at halftime.
It was the Stars who moved in to top gear on the return, the visitors producing a telling opening when they scored the first seven goals while leaving the Magic scoreless for almost six minutes.
Losing their movement on attack, the Magic could not breach the Stars strong defensive wall where Burley, Leana de Bruin and Holly Fowler gained numerous turnover opportunities.
Continuing to be defensively strong, the Magic struggled mightily at the other end, not helped by wayward passing. The Stars pounced on every extra opportunity to completely dominate, restricting the Magic to just five goals as they powered out to a 44-33 lead.
Changes of personnel to the home side helped limit the damage but with their foot on the pedal, the Stars were in no mood to let the Magic back in for the run home.