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Vixens fire against Mystics

2 March 2014

Melbourne Vixens (58) defeated Northern Mystics (34)

Vixens fire against Mystics

With both teams fancied to be in the top four at season’s end, Melbourne Vixens delivered a strong statement in outclassing the Northern Mystics 58-34 in first round action in Melbourne on Sunday.

With a solid opener from their new-look midcourt, Vixens were a cut above their opponents at either of the court. Clinical shooting, on the back of a steady supply of ball, was backed up by a suffocating defensive effort for which Mystics had no answers.

The visitors struggled on attack, key off-season signing Laura Langman having a tough first outing as Geva Mentor and Bianca Chatfield limited her feeding options with their all-round defensive qualities.

Apart from the opening minutes, the Mystics shooters were on the back foot, and unable to find their groove, constant pressure telling on their confidence and accuracy as the turnover rate remained high throughout the game.

Veteran shooter Catherine Cox made the starting line-up in her debut for the Vixens while youngsters, Liz Watson (centre), a late replacement to the team, and Kate Maloney (wing defence) were introduced to the home team’s midcourt.

Struggling with early season injury problems to their defensive end, utility Jess Tuki was drafted into the Mystics squad for the short term, finding herself at goalkeeper for the season-opener.

Tuki made an excellent start, picking up some early turnover ball to give the visitors the impetus but it did not take long for the Vixens to make their mark. Breaking the shackles, the home team strung together a run of fluent and quick transitional play to rock the Mystics.

Vixens took full toll of a mounting turnover rate by the visitors with shooters Cox and Tegan Caldwell making no mistake under the hoop. A lack of drive in the Mystics attacking third played into the accomplished hands of defensive duo Mentor and Chatfield who effectively cut off the visitors’ ball supply.

With the bulk of the possession, as attested by Vixens 23 attempts compared to Mystics nine, it was the home team who flew into a healthy 17-8 lead at the first break.

Showing no panic in the ranks, Mystics held their own in a more competitive second stanza with patient build-ups to chip away at the deficit. However, they lacked consistency to make the decisive breakthrough, often missing crucial opportunities. Coming within five on a couple of occasions was as close as they could get.

The introduction of the well-performed Karyn Bailey, for Cox, made a significant impact on proceedings, the tall shooter slipping in seamlessly to combine sweetly with Caldwell. Conversely, Mystics captain Maria Tutaia struggled to find her range with a number of missed shots as the home team went into the main break with a 28-20 advantage.

Elisapeta Toeva replaced Erikana Pedersen at wing attack for Mystics in the second half but it had little effect on the team’s fortunes, the Vixens getting off to a flyer in scoring six unanswered goals at the start of the stanza.

Bailey and Caldwell continued to be a standout presence with their finishing polish under the hoop as Vixens moved into overdrive. There was no respite at the other end with Chatfield and Mentor at their destructive best to completely shut the Mystics shooters out of the game.

Piling on 17 goals of their own, Vixens restricted Mystics to just six for the stanza as they raced to a match-winning 45-26 lead at the last break.

Vixens shooting statistics:
Karyn Bailey 28/33 (85%)
Tegan Caldwell 21/28 (75%)
Catherine Cox 9/14 (64%)

Mystics shooting statistics:
Maria Tutaia 16/27 (59%)
Cathrine Latu 15/20 (75%)
Bailey Mes 3/10 (30%)

Match MVP: Kate Moloney (Vixens)


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