The Northern Mystics frittered away an early nine-goal lead to draw 52-52 with the Central Pulse in Monday’s trans-Tasman netball league clash in Wellington.
The Pulse’s tenacity allowed them to shrug off what should have been a decisive deficit, and they showed more consistency over four quarters to emerge from the often-scrappy match with an invaluable point.
The Mystics began strongly, with Cathrine Tuivaiti (29 from 30) and Maria Tutaia (23/32) splitting the circle well and centre Kayla Cullen showing nice variation on the feed.
The visitors took a 14-10 lead into the first break, then blasted out to a nine-goal lead four minutes into the second stanza.
Undeterred, the Pulse embarked on an unlikely 10-1 scoring run to draw even five minutes before halftime.
The Pulse’s stifling midcourt defence played a big part in generating turnover ball, and they were equally efficient on transition in firing the ball into the shooting circle.
Wing attack Chelsea Locke’s drive through the midcourt was outstanding, and her quick feed into shooters Maia Wilson (32/34) and Ameliaranne Wells (20/27) played a key role in the Pulse’s revival.
Locke’s battle with English international Serena Guthrie at wing defence for the Mystics was a real feature, one from which the Australian emerged a clear winner.
In contrast, young Mystics wing attack Fa’amu Ioane struggled for traction against gritty Pulse wing defender Jacinta Messer, and was replaced by Nadia Loveday midway through the second quarter.
The Mystics rallied late in the spell, and took a 27-26 lead into halftime before constructing a solid third quarter which allowed them to edge out to a 40-37 lead with 15 minutes remaining.
The Mystics had their chances in the final stanza, edging out to a four-goal lead midway through the quarter, but outstanding work from Pulse circle defenders Katrina Grant and Phoenix Karaka proved key in the hectic closing minutes.
Northern Mystics remain winless after three rounds, while the Pulse consolidated second position in the New Zealand conference, two points behind Southern Steel.