The Robinhood Stars have lost just their second match of the ANZ Premiership season, falling 63-60 to the Northern Mystics in the first instalment of the Northern Challenge series in Auckland.
Both teams began the match by trading blows, before the Mystics and Stars each gave away various turnovers that couldn't be converted into points.
The Mystics continued to provide pressure on defence and were rewarded off some rushed passes from the Stars, with Mystics shooter Grace Nweke imposing herself inside the shooting circle and enjoying a perfect shooting quarter.
The Stars tried valiantly to regain hold of the contest, but finished the first quarter down 17-13.
The Mystics started the second quarter with some clinical play, before the Stars were rewarded with some smothering defensive efforts to pull the gap to as little as three goals.
Starting her first game of the season at goal keep, Oceane Maihi was everywhere throughout the first half, pulling in four intercepts and making four gains.
Midcourter Gina Crampton did her best to keep the Stars in the match with quick thinking and fast feeds into the circle, but with some missed shots and cheap turnovers, the Stars went into the changing rooms behind 34-27 at half-time.
The Stars came into the second half with intent, with Anna Harrison shifting from wing defence back to her preferred position in the defensive circle of goal defence.
The Stars nabbed some important turnovers, but as had been the story for much of the game, couldn't convert and the Mystics were able to keep their advantage.
The Stars displayed the grit they've shown in the face of adversity all season late in the quarter though and with some timely turnovers were able to shorten the deficit. Amorangi Malesala and Maia Wilson combined well in the shooting circle and the Stars trailed 47-43 heading into the final period.
Turnovers were going to be key if the Stars were to pull off yet another famous victory and while they forced one early, they couldn't capitalise and the Mystics kept hold of their four goal buffer for much of the quarter.
The Stars upped their intensity and with Malesala on fire inside the shooting circle, were able to close the gap to just two goals late.
Despite a brave effort, the Stars lost the race against the clock and eventually went down 63-60.
Nweke was a pillar for the Mystics all game and was awarded the player of the match award for a performance where she nailed 60 of her 64 attempts at goal.
The Stars remain on top of the competition ladder and are back at home next weekend, where they'll host the Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse.