The Central Pulse have become the first team to book their spot in the ANZ Premiership Finals Series with a physical 62-56 win against the Northern Mystics.
In a top-of-the-table clash, the Pulse leapfrogged the Mystics into top rung on the Premiership ladder in front of a full house in Wellington with their 10th win of the season.
The home side raced out of the blocks in the penultimate round fixture to lead by 10 goals at the first quarter break.
The visitors rallied back to reduce the deficit to five goals by half-time.
With the Pulse holding an eight-goal advantage at three quarter time, romping home by a large margin was a possibility.
However the gritty Mystics surged again to close the gap before the Pulse deflected the challenge.
Young shooter Amelia Walmsley scored 47 goals for the home side, backed up by goal attack Tiana Metuarau with a perfect shooting record.
Walmsley was pivotal for the defending champions, and despite a few wobbles continued to put her hand up under mounting pressure.
Mystics sharp shooter Grace Nweke scored 46 of her 51 attempts with defender Michaela Sokolich-Beatson in particularly devastating form for the Aucklanders.
Athletic Pulse midcourter Maddy Gordon marshalled the attack in a player of the game performance, while captain Kelly Jury led the defensive stats for her side with two intercepts and two gains.
Jury secured ball at key times and was an influential figure on the court.
The Mystics, in posting their fourth loss of the season, are second on the standings with the Northern Stars third.
Shooting Stats – Pulse:
Tiana Metuarau 15/15 (100%)
Amelia Walmsley 47/57 (82.5%)
Shooting Stats – Mystics:
Grace Nweke 46/51 (90.2%)
Filda Vui 10/15 (66.7%)
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