The Northern Stars bounced back from a defeat last week to muscle their way to a 57-47 win over the Splice Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic in Tauranga tonight, to complete round five of the ANZ Premiership.
The Stars welcomed back Temepara Bailey into the fold who missed the last round due to a quad strain.
As she has done all season, Bailey helped marshal the team from center, with Mila Reulu-Buchanan finding Maia Wilson and Ellen Halpenny under the post with deft feeding.
Prior to the match Northern Stars Head Coach Kiri Wills was upfront about bouncing back from the loss to the Central Pulse in the previous round.
“No team likes to be told they’ve been outhustled like we were last week, so we’ve worked hard over the last eight days to make sure that didn’t happen again,” said Wills.
Wills also added “our theme for today was about ‘Being Giants,’ we were going to fight for this game and that’s what they did, I’m really proud of their efforts tonight.”
Both teams first met in round 1 where the Magic pulled away in the final quarter to win 51-57, but the Stars were determined to reverse that result.
Kayla Cullen who has enjoyed a strong start to the season made her presence know at wing defence with strong defensive pressure and drive through court to take the pressure off the Stars midcourt.
The Magic started with goal shoot Kelsey McPhee in goal shoot with Storm Purvis and Leana De Bruin double marking McPhee to try and limit ball supply to the shooter.
The Stars held a slight advantage at the first break 16-15.
The Magic got out to a flyer in the second quarter causing a number of turnovers to build a five-goal lead.
Kate Burley replaced Storm Purvis at goal keep at the start of the second quarter.
Burley took time to settle before winning two crucial turnovers to help claw back the score line to 28 all at half time.
“The changes helped after half time, Kate came on well as she slides into that back space the Magic shooters wanted,” said Wills.
In an MVP performance, Wilson battled with the long reach of Kelly Jury and Casey Kopua, but still managed to hold together the Stars shooting circle with 18/20 goals in the first half.
Holly Fowler was the only change after the main break, coming on for Cullen as the Stars sunk seven straight goals to open the third quarter.
Fowler in particular managed to pressure the Magic midcourt and starved wing attack Simmon Howe of ball possession.
The body on body battle between Ruelu-Buchanan and Sam Sinclair intensified in the second half as both players we told to settle down by the referee.
The Magic only managed to score five goals as the Stars romped out to a 44-33 lead heading into the final quarter.
With a healthy lead, the Stars continued to apply pressure in the final fifteen minutes and convert their own center pass offs to secure the win.
Captain De Bruin after the match was proud of her team.
“We knew they were going to come out firing tonight so we needed to make sure we maintained our composure down the stretch and I’m really proud we did that, I’m looking forward to how we progress from here,” said De Bruin.
The Northern Stars will next take on the Northern Mystics this Super Sunday at The Trusts Arena. Special priced $15 tickets to Super Sunday can be purchased here
The Northern Stars next home game is against the Splice Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic on Monday 8th April at Pulman Arena from 7.40pm. Tickets available here