date_range Published 23 Aug 2019
In the end it was emphatic.
A second-half blitz helped the South Pac Magic clinch the women’s club basketball title last night.
It started slowly but recovered from that to run away with a 57-35 win in last night’s final.
Ajax battled well early and led by seven midway through the second half.
However, it managed just 10 second-half points.
Without key sisters Aleisha and Nicole Ruske it struggled for offence, while the Magic defence swarmed.
It got stops and then looked to push the ball, while working well against the Ajax zone to create quality shots.
The win denied Ajax a third consecutive title and was just the second time in the past decade it has not won.
Forward Letitia Mullaly led the way for Magic with 16 points, proving key in scoring 11 in a row down the stretch in the post.
Guard Soraya Umaga-Jensen chipped in with 15, hitting several big shots in the game’s key period.
It was a nervy start from both sides although eventually Ajax opened up an early lead.
Natalie Visger scored the Magic’s opening six points, before Kaylee Bezett hit three shots to pull away to 20-13.
The Magic hit back midway through the second.
Umaga-Jensen hit a timely three-pointer, before Kylie Maihi scored off a Dayna Turnbull kick out to make it 20-20.
The sides traded buckets again, but Umaga-Jensen’s second three-pointer gave Magic a one point lead. Olivia O’Neill answered with a three-pointer of her own for Ajax.
But the Magic took back the lead and Georgia Te Au beat the buzzer from deep to make it 30-25 at halftime.
That margin soon became double-digits early in the third quarter.
Umaga-Jensen and Natalie Visger both finished through contact, before another three from Maihi made it 37-27.
At that point Ajax stemmed the flow, but its offence could not get going.
The Magic defence continued to cause problems.
Claudia Flaws was prominent in creating turnovers, while the Magic offence continued to be aggressive and got to the line.
It led 44-33 at the end of the third quarter.
The deficit became 15 when Mullaly finished in the post off two back-to-back nice feeds from Te Au.
From there it continued to pull away, Ajax managingjust two points in the final quarter.
Magic guard Te Au and Ajax forward Natalie Smith were named joint league most valuable players.