Playing with a freedom and joy, the Robinhood Stars looked to have dug themselves out of a mid-season slump and will be ruing their slow start to the last spell where they allowed their opponents to make inroads - falling 64-62 win at TSB Arena in Wellington on Saturday night.

The Stars had controlled much of the match, winning the second and third quarters, but were unable to finish the key plays with the possibility of extra time looming in the tight tussle.

They welcomed back Elle Temu, who missed last week’s action with an ankle injury, with the defender earning a starting spot.

With plenty at stake, both teams settled into their work – a tidy opening five minutes with no turnovers from either team leaving the scores locked at six apiece.

A footwork call on the Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse’s Amelia Walmsley was the first opportunity for the Stars to break the deadlock on the scoreboard which Maia Wilson converted at the other end.

It was extended to a three-goal lead as the Stars, who have the second-best attacking record in the league after seven rounds, showed a cohesion up from that was missing the last time the two teams met – both Gina Crampton and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan finding Wilson and Amorangi Malesala with precision passes over the long reach of the Pulse defence.

But the Pulse were not to be outdone, pouncing on anything loose and scoring six of the last 10 goals of the spell to help level the scores at 16-16 at the first break.

On limited court time for her return to the court, Temu was replaced by Kelera Nawai-Caucau as play resumed in the second stanza.

Nawai-Caucau made her presence felt almost immediately as the Stars again edged out to a slender advantage while the Pulse looked to bed in their re-jigged midcourt.

Hunting outside the circle, the defender helped her team to the biggest lead of the night – the other end just as efficient in their timing and vision into the Stars circle, the visitors leading 35-32 at halftime.

However three unanswered goals from the Stars in the last 90 seconds of play helped the visitors to a 52-48 advantage turning into the last quarter.

Making all the play in a deciding fourth quarter against the Stars, the Pulse came from four goals down to take the win.

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