Magic edge persistent Pulse
Te Wananga o Raukawa Pulse came agonisingly close before being pipped 52-50 by the in-form WBOP Magic in Rotorua on Wednesday.
The final game of Round 2 ANZ Premiership action produced a cracking outing, a defiant Magic led by their inspiring captain Casey Kopua managing to absorb their closest examination to date and deliver.
The Pulse never backed off, doing enough to garner a bonus point but just lacking Magic’s finishing and execution on attack as the hosts retained their unbeaten run despite a big challenge from the visitors in the final quarter.
There were no changes to the respective line-ups of the previous round, Magic picking up where they left in getting away to a flyer.
The confidence and accuracy of midcourters Ariana Cable-Dixon and Grace Rasmussen helped impressive shooter Lenize Potgieter make the best of starts with Magic posting the first three goals.
With both defensive ends operating effectively, the turnovers came, the Pulse overcoming their slow start to hit their straps. Shooters Te Amo Amaru-Tibble and Cathrine Tuivaiti showed some nice touches with their movement under the hoop, pegging back the deficit and helping the visitors take the momentum into the first break when they led 17-14.
Stung into action on the resumption, Magic had negated the deficit within three minutes before unleashing an emphatic second quarter reply.
Continuing to impress with their long-range play, Magic also turned the screws defensively, the in-circle pairing of Kopua and her young pupil Kelly Jury, giving their team the upper hand.
Kopua and Jury excelled in shutting down the Pulse shooters. At the other end, Pulse captain Katrina Grant produced a valiant effort in trying to stem the flow but could not halt the Magic’s progress to a 29-25 lead at the main break.
Showing her customary poise, teenaged Pulse shooter Tiana Metuarau entered the fray for the second half, the teams turning on exciting passages of play as the momentum shifted back and forth.
The immaculate feeding into the classy Potgieter continued as the Pulse struggled to stem the fluency of ball into the shooter and overall efficiency of their opponents.
Defender Karin Burger took over from Phoenix Karaka for the Pulse while Magic made multiple changes during the third stanza, the main feature being Rasmussen’s move to goal attack.
The Pulse made inroads in an even quarter, narrowing the gap to two but once again, it was Magic who finished with a flourish, the relentless defensive work of Kopua and Jury helping the home team push out to a 44-39 lead at the last break.
The Pulse came charging back in an action-packed final quarter with defenders Grant, Claire Kersten and Karaka playing prominent roles but unable to get the vital breakthrough.