The unbeaten Te Wānaga o Raukawa Central Pulse punished the Northern Stars errors in a horror second quarter to beat the home team 50-61 at Pulman Arena in Takanini tonight.
The Stars were without veteran midcourter Temepara Bailey who was out with a strained quad, which gave Holly Fowler the start at center and the opportunity to push for more court time.
Both teams failed to take advantage of momentum when the opportunity presented itself in the first quarter with handling mistakes at both ends.
Mila Ruelu-Buchanan continued her strong form against her former team. Ruelu-Buchanan often dominated the second phase to easily deliver ball to Maia Wilson.
Strong shooting from Wilson from all areas of the circle managed to keep the home team in the hunt, going to the first break with a 12 all score line.
The Pulse started the second quarter strongly thanks to errors from the Stars attackers which the visitors punished to quickly build a 7-goal lead. The Pulse were determined to keep building on their lead.
The Stars defensive unit of Storm Purvis, Leana De Bruin and Kayla Cullen were picking up enough ball for the home side, only to be let down by handling errors or missed shots.
Cullen’s battle with Silver Fern Whitney Souness was a spectacle as both players showcased their athleticism and flare.
Cullen who was also battling flu symptons, picked up five turn overs for her team in the first half and was key in driving the ball through court.
The Pulse continued to fluster the Stars attack and comfortably built a 20-29 half time lead.
Coach Kiri Wills made a number of changes after the half, bringing on Charlee Hodges and Tori Kolose to replace Ellen Halpenny and Holly Fowler.
“We needed more punch onto the ball as Mila was doing a lot of work out there,” said Wills.
“We got out-hustled in that second quarter, we needed to look down the court as there were players available, but we kept going sideways.”
The change took time to settle but the Stars managed to peg the deficit back to six goals before the Pulse pushed out their lead once again.
Fowler was brought back on during the third quarter after words from assistant coach Bailey which seemed to have worked as the Stars worked their way back into the match to go into the final quarter down 36-45.
Kate Burley replaced Cullen for the final quarter with the Pulse making a number of changes themselves.
The partnership between Wilson and Hodges continuing to strengthen with Hodges taking many shots from range. The Pulse shooters we also on song with Aliyah Dunn finishing with 96% success rate.
The Stars will seek revenge next week Wednesday when they take on the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic in Tauranga. The last time the two sides met, the Magic beat the Stars 51-57.The next home game for the Northern Stars will take place on Monday 8th April against the WBoP Magic. Tickets for next match is available here