The Mandurah Magic opened their 2017 Women’s State Basketball League campaign with a bang when they ground out a hard-fought win over the Perth Redbacks on Saturday night.
A first-quarter flurry and a brilliant all-around showing from all-star guard Nici Gilday led the Magic to the 66-59 victory in front of a packed out crowd at the Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre.
The Magic had the hot hand from the first tip, opening the match on a 13-2 run to storm of the gate and take an early lead on the back of some vintage Casey Mihovilovich.
The seven-time all-star was knocking down her shots and drawing fouls with 12 points in the first quarter, as Mandurah opened up a 15-point lead at quarter time.
The Magic continued on their way in the second and by half time led the game by 20.
But Perth refused to lie down, firing back in the third with a flurry of shots and some stout defence bringing them within 11 points at the final break.
The Redbacks continued to fight in the fourth, with an Adrienne Johnson three-point bomb cutting the Magic’s lead to five points with 4:31 on the clock.
A pair of Rachel Halleen free throws helped steady Mandurah’s ship, and they were able to grind out a tough victory.
Gilday was prolific down the stretch, pouring in 23 points to go with eight rebounds and two assists.
Mihovilovich finished with 20 points, five rebounds and three assists while Bree Klasztorny was instrumental under the rim with 13 rebounds.
Coach Randy Miegel said his side would be better for the tough win.
“A hit-out like that could be really good for us. It was a real finals game where the opponent throws everything they have at you, so for us to stand up and fight out a win I think was really pleasing,” he said.
“I was really happy with how we toughed it out – I thought Nici took her game to another level and Bree was fantastic with the intensity she brought to the game.”
The Magic hit the road with a chance to close out the series this Saturday night.
Game two against Perth tips off at Belmont Oasis at 7pm.