The Robinhood Stars have consolidated their spot at the top of the ANZ Premiership ladder with a resilient 55-53 win over The Te Wānanga o Raukawa Central Pulse in Auckland.
The win is the Stars' seventh of their campaign and sees them hold a four point buffer over the Northern Mystics.
The Stars started the game full of intent and made their mark early on attack and defence.
Midcourt maestros Gina Crampton and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan were feeding Maia Wilson and Jamie Hume with accuracy in the shooting circle and with both shooters on fire, the Stars accelerated to a polished four goal lead.
Defender Elle Temu made her presence felt with multiple tips disrupting the Pulse's attacking flow.
The Stars maintained their advantage and finished the opening quarter up 17-13
The second quarter was a rapid affair, with both teams heightening their intensity across the court. The Stars defensive end of Elle Temu and Anna Harrison made some key stops and with Wilson and Hume converting the Stars had stretched their lead to five goals.
The Pulse increased pressure on the ball and were rewarded with turnovers of their own and chipped away at the deficit and suddenly the Pulse were leading by two, with centre Maddy Gordon everywhere and defender Kelera Nawai a nuisance in the Stars' shooting circle.
The momentum and scoreboard had swung in the Pulse's favour and they were now ahead 29-27 at half-time.
The third quarter was tense, with both teams controlling the ball well and mistakes hard to come by early on.
The Stars were able to secure some important ball and bring the game level with some controlled phases and it was going to be a case of when would the next break come for either team.
The Pulse would eventually benefit from concerted pressure and with a couple of back to back turnovers, managed to edge in front by three goals and take a 44-41 advantage into the deciding quarter.
The Stars then showed why they are the top team in the competition - instead of letting the three-goal deficit overwhelm them they took on the challenge and endeavoured to own the final period in all aspects.
Both teams traded goals back and forth for the first half of the quarter, before Harrison nabbed a vital turnover as the heat went up at the defensive end and with the Stars making another gain swiftly after, the game was suddenly tied with just under five minutes to play, as Hume nailed some long range bombs showing poise under pressure.
The Stars could sense the game was there for the taking and with some great defence from Harrison and Oceane Maihi and cohesiveness at the attacking end, the Stars had complete control and a three goal lead.
With little time left, the Stars managed the clock perfectly and held on for a gutsy 55-53 victory.
Mila Reuelu-Buchanan was rewarded for a tenacious effort at centre with player of the match honours, while Harrison and Temu combined for eight gains and five intercepts at the defensive end.
The Stars next travel to Dunedin on Saturday to face The Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel.