A strong second half lifted the Mandurah Magic women’s team to a road win over the reigning champions Willetton in their season opener on Saturday night.
An improved defence and more intensity after the main break saw the Magic overcome a big night from Willetton’s Kate Malpass and post a 67-53 win.
Mandurah started the game keeping pace but just trailing the Tigers.
Malpass, who finished the night with 25 points, five rebounds and six steals led the Tigers to a one-point advantage at the end of the first.
Mandurah hung tough and claimed a one-point lead for themselves before the main break.
But the game broke apart in the second half, when Mandurah upped the ante on their defence and restricted Willetton to just 10 and nine points in the third and fourth periods respectively.
“I thought we took some time to hit our straps but when we did we really got going,” Mandurah coach Randy Miegel said.
“Kate Malpass was doing some damage to us early but we switched our match-ups and Nici (Gilday) and Rachel (Halleen) were able to restrict her influence.”
The American import Gilday was influential in her first match for the Magic, pouring in 18 points and pulling down four rebounds.
Miegel praised Gilday for her first up efforts, saying she would only improve for the side from here.
“It was good to see Nici put in a solid game, but I think more importantly she was able to get that first game out of the way,” he said.
“Now the wheels are rolling I think she will just improve from here.”
Trusty veteran Casey Mihovilovich chalked up another stellar performance, with her 22 points and six rebounds leading the side by example.
Co-captain Emma Klasztorny was a defensive force blocking three shots, collecting nine rebounds and pinching two steals to go along with her eight points.
Miegel said a team effort was the decisive factor in the end.
“We’ve got a lot of girls who can put up ten points and play their role really well, which I think helps us overall as a team,” he said.
“That was an important win to start the season off. Wins on the road are always important.”
Next up, the Magic travel to Lakeside to face a Lightning side coming off an 11-point win over the South West Slammers.