Stars make statement in dominant win over Mystics
In a performance to savour, the Robinhood Stars delivered a masterclass with a sizzling 59-38 win over defending champions the MG Mystics in Auckland on Sunday.
The Stars clinically dismantled the top-of-the-table Mystics with a decisive and dominant 21-goal triumph. In the process, the home side eclipsed their previous record ANZ Premiership score of 19 goals, the Mystics simply having no answers in a game highlighted by their crippling turnover count.
It was the third win in a row for the home side, the first for the Stars this season while the wounded Mystics slumped to a third straight loss. With the Northern Challenge Trophy already decided in the Battle of the Bridge series, the Stars would take great heart from turning around previous 24-goal (four weeks ago) and three-goal losses (two weeks ago) against the Mystics.
With defender Anna Harrison still missing through illness, Kayla Johnson slotted into goal defence to team with Elle Temu for the Stars.
For the third straight game, the Mystics continued to be without injured shooter Grace Nweke, Monica Falkner and Filda Vui tasked with propping up the visitors’ shooting end.
Backed by a tidy defensive effort and enjoying the resulting spoils, the Stars set their intent and the tone early as they quickly skipped out to a five-goal advantage.
In her 100th national league match, Stars captain Maia Wilson revelled in space and a slick supply of ball while defenders Holly Fowler, Johnson and Temu provided the impetus on defence to continually frustrate their opponents.
The Mystics did well to halt the Stars momentum late in the piece with three late goals, the home side taking a 13-11 lead into the first break.
In the special rivalry that endures between the pair, the Mystics turned up the heat on the resumption but it was short-lived, the Stars refusing to flinch and replying with a string of five straight goals and with it a handy six-goal lead.
From there, the Stars went on the rampage to produce a scorching second stanza. Struggling to adapt without their shooting maestro Nweke, the Mystics reverted to defender Phoenix Karaka switching to the goal shoot bib as the pressure continued to mount for the defending champions.
With Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Gina Crampton ruling the midcourt for the Stars and Wilson and fellow shooting partner Jamie Hume enjoying a healthy dose of ball in hand under the hoop, the home side ended the quarter with a stunning seven straight goals.
Going long minutes without scoring, the Mystics were staring down the barrel when trailing 32-18 at the main break after being held to just seven goals during the stanza.
Introduced at goal defence for the Stars in the third quarter, evergreen defender Leana de Bruin notched a record-breaking 227th national league match appearance to move past Laura Langman and into a special place in the record books.
Despite personnel changes on both sides, the rot continued for the Mystics who were unable to make headway. Defensively, the Stars continued to dominate with Temu leading the intercept count while the team collectively were ruthless at causing a heavy turnover toll.
Confidence was in evidence from the home side who produced a slick and seamless through-court transition, a mix of short and long pin-point feeds offering a wealth of scoring opportunities. With the Mystics, once again, kept to a single digit return, the Stars enjoyed a handsome 47-27 lead at the last break.