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Mes-merising Magic defeat Stars

Mes-merising Magic defeat Stars

A stand-out performance from shooting master Bailey Mes drove the AVIS Magic to a decisive 71-57 victory over an ill-fated Robinhood Stars in Hamilton tonight.

Mes excelled with the highest personal score in her ANZ Premiership career, 54 goals from 58 attempts (at 93 percent), as the combination with her shooting partner, Ameliaranne Ekenasio, goes from strength to strength this season.

The Waikato Bay of Plenty side also equalled their highest score in this league, last achieved in 2017. And the win catapulted the Magic to third on the points table at the end of round six.

But it was the second heavy loss of the weekend for the previous ladder leaders the Stars, who were hamstrung in the first 20 seconds in Hamilton.

The visitors lost their goal keep Elle Temu who badly rolled her ankle. Then defender Lisa Putt also suffered a foot injury not long after she’d taken the court in the second quarter.

The repercussions shuddered through the entire Stars line-up, with their attack struggling to connect under massive pressure from the magic.

Both teams were coming off losses earlier in the weekend, with the Magic’s one-goal loss to the LG Mystics just over 24 hours earlier.

Temu’s replacement, Kelera Nawai-Caucau, and goal defence Holly Fowler weren’t afraid to go hunting, but were left wanting.

At the other end, the Stars attack looked solid in the opening spell, with Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Gina Crampton putting in good ball to Maia Wilson.

Little separated the two sides at the first quarter, with the Magic up 17-16, but then it all began to falter for the Stars.

Claire Kersten, under load management, came into the game at wing defence and added a new dimension to the Magic defence. Under new pressure, the Stars attack began making basic passing errors which cost them dearly.

On the other hand, the Magic attack looked sharp – Georgie Edgecombe and Simmon Wilbore using patience to feed Mes and Ekenasio, who smartly interchanged roles further confusing the Stars defence. Ekenasio was equally on target with her shots, but was happy to play feeder to Mes as well.

The Magic’s 38-28 lead at halftime gave them good reason to celebrate - the highest total goals scored in a first half by the Waikato Bay of Plenty team in their ANZ Premiership history.

The pain continued for the Stars in the third quarter with the Magic scoring the first seven goals of the spell to push the difference out to 17.

As the Stars’ frustration grew, so did the Magic’s confidence. Defenders Georgia Takarangi and Erena Mikaere made it increasingly difficult for the Stars to get the ball into their shooters’ hands, but Jamie Hume’s introduction at goal attack gave the visitors some heart.

The Magic’s 57-39 lead at three-quarter time meant they could afford to bring their bench into the game.

The Stars salvaged some pride winning the final quarter, 18-14, with a fired-up Buchanan fighting for ball and Wilson remaining accurate with 37 from 39 (95 percent).

But little could be taken away from player of the match Mes’ shooting performance – her best since scoring 47 in 2017.