MYSTICS FALL TO STARS IN BRUTAL EXTRA TIME BATTLE
Monday 24 April, 2023
The Trusts Arena, Henderson
Full time MG Mystics 77 – Robinhood Stars 79
A grueling extra time battle has seen the Robinhood Stars steal a 79 – 77 win against the MG Mystics to put the cap on a demanding double-header for both sides in round 8.
It was a war of attrition in the final quarter and into extra time as neither side gave an inch leading into a rare tie-breaker which called for the winner to draw two points clear of the loser.
Stars goal-attack and ANZ Player of the Match Amorangi Malesala had the final say sealing the score at 79 – 77 and ending a stand-out personal performance for her in the shooting circle.
The Monday night crowd was spoiled with a fast-paced and physical match between the two Auckland sides for the Barfoot & Thompson Northern Challenge.
It was the second game of the round for both teams, with the Stars coming fresh off a loss to the Pulse on Saturday and the Mystics taking the court top of the table after a convincing win over the Magic on Sunday afternoon.
The extra day’s rest may have been the difference for the Stars as they managed to maintain intensity right to the final second, spurred on by the fact they had the better of the Mystics in three out of the four quarters.
With captain and dynamic defender Michaela Sokolich-Beatson out due to illness, the Mystics stuttered in the first quarter as the Stars did their best to shut down playmaker Peta Toeava and gun shooter Grace Nweke.
The Mystics answered in the second quarter with renewed zest to run away to a five-point lead at half time thanks in part to a remarkable effort from the Mystics’ defensive pairing of Phoenix Karaka and Carys Stythe. The duo swapped bibs at the end of the first quarter and looked to hit their straps coming away with plenty of turnover ball that was quickly converted in the shooting end.
Nweke held her space well, getting the better of her defenders and snatching in all manner of feeds from the Mystics mid-courters.
The third quarter saw it back to level pegging with the Stars pipping the Mystics by one point going into the final chapter.
Tayla Earle made her return to centre after two weeks out of action with a foot injury and instantly added composure and surety to the Mystics in an otherwise frenzied contest.
Goal-keeper Carys Stythe was on fire, showing off extraordinary timing on her jump to get a number of deflections and crucial rebounds from the Stars’ few missed attempts at goal.
Stars goal-attack Malesala was a dead-eye sinking shots from long range with confidence, helping her side to draw even at the end of the fourth quarter and force extra time.
Both teams held their nerve throughout a brutal six minutes that had the crowd and the substitute benches on their feet.
With it tied after three minutes each way of extra time both sides had to endure sudden death and it was the Mystics to crack first, throwing away a pass that allowed the Stars to eventually draw two goals clear and take the victory.