The Robinhood Stars have been unable to topple their rivals the Northern Mystics falling to a 69-61 ANZ Premiership loss in their round 12 meeting in Auckland.
The result means the Stars stay in second spot on the competition ladder and is their third loss to the Mystics this season.
The Stars made a tough start to the match with a turnover off their opening centre pass possession and the Mystics opened up a two-goal lead early.
The Stars were throwing everything at the Mystics looking to force a turnover and to regain possession as goals were traded throughout.
The defensive pairing of Anna Harrison and Elle Temu were heaping pressure on Mystics sharpshooter Grace Nweke and forcing her into a number of misses, but frustratingly they couldn't nab any defensive rebounds.
The pressure soon showed again as the Mystics effected an intercept late in the quarter and with back to back goals the Mystics worked towards a 20-16 lead at quarter-time.
The Stars continued their persistent hunt for ball in the second quarter and after some patience they finally got the turnovers they were after, with Harrison picking up a key intercept and the Stars were able to close the deficit to two.
While midcourter Gina Crampton was industrious in the front third on attack, sending in some spectacular feeds to shooters Jamie Hume and Maia Wilson - she was equally as committed on defence, picking up a key gain and contributing to another as the Stars were now just one goal off the lead.
The Stars couldn't quite capitalise off their momentum shift and with a missed shot the Mystics regained possession and edged out to a three goal lead at the end of the half - up 36-33.
The Stars begun the second half full of intent and with some more turnovers forced and Wilson on a heater inside the shooting circle, the Stars had chipped away at the deficit and the scores were now tied.
The Stars just couldn't quite maintain momentum and gave up possession as they tried to get an illusive go-ahead goal.
The Mystics came home with a wet sail to close out the quarter and with some big plays led 53-49 heading into the final period.
The Stars knew they had to get quick turnovers if they were going to get back into the game and snatch victory and they managed to win some ball but as was the story for much of the match missed shots were costly against a Mystics side who rarely put a foot wrong.
The Stars tried valiantly to salvage an all-important bonus point late, but the Mystics pounced on loose ball and extended their lead before eventually coming away 69-61 victors and completing a Northern Challenge clean sweep.
Penalties were costly for the Stars with a whopping 83 coming their way to the Mystics' 52.
One of the shining lights of the contest was a return to court for Silver Ferns and Stars shooter Monica Falkner who was playing her first match since suffering a knee injury in round one and made a handy contribution in the third quarter.
The Stars travel south to face The Good Oil Tactix in their next match in Christchurch on July 12th.