The Robinhood Stars have ended their tumultuous season the way they began, with a commanding 65-46 win over the Splice Construction Magic.
Playing their Community Round match in front of an appreciative purple home crowd at Pulman Arena, the Stars were voracious on defence, restricting Magic’s possession to morsels.
The Magic ended a tough 2021 ANZ Premiership – where they notched up just one win, in the opening round – by showing glimpses of style and strength. But they struggled to string it all together.
It was an untidy start to a match where both teams were determined to end their seasons on a winning note.
But rival centres Sam Winders and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan were outstanding from the get-go, both playing a vital role for their teams.
Six goals in a row from the Stars – instigated by their strong defence – put them comfortably ahead halfway through the quarter. And they began to look like the team who had led the competition for three-quarters of the season.
Elle Temu, in particular, was having a great day in the office, blocking shots and poaching a wealth of ball destined for Magic shooter Caitlin Bassett.
With the Stars leading 16-9 at the end of the first quarter, Amigene Metcalfe - in her last game as Magic coach - told her team to stick to their game plan and not get stuck behind the Stars players.
She introduced Chiara Semple at goal attack for Khiarna Williams, but still Temu and her partner Anna Harrison were relentless on defence.
To try to tighten up their own circle defence, Magic brought on Temalisi Fakahokotau for Georgia Tong, as Stars goal attack Jamie Hume took on her fair share of shots with the impressive accuracy from all ranges that she’s shown this season.
With a 10-goal advantage, Monica Falkner came on for goal shoot Maia Wilson (still having trouble with her shot) and Falkner took a while to get her eye in.
One of the most surprising statistics from the first two quarters was the difference in attempts at goal – the Stars’ 48 attempts to the Magic’s 25. And so the Stars took quite an advantage, 33-21, into the halftime break.
Wilson returned to the court, briefly, but it was Hume again who held up the shooting end, fed superbly by the master, Gina Crampton.
Semple and Winders worked well together at times to get the ball to Bassett, and closed the gap to 10. But with Falkner and Hume in sync by the end of the third quarter the Stars stretched their lead out to 17 goals, 50-33.
There were no signs of the outcome changing in the last quarter, as Harrison took her ninth intercept of the game, and Temu her fifth.