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Aiken and Byfield's teams lose narrowly
CANBERRA, Australia (CMC):
Romelda Aiken continued her impressive form, but the Queensland Firebirds had their four-game winning streak snapped when a last-second penalty goal sealed a thrilling 51-50 win for the Adelaide Thunderbirds in the ANZ Championship.
Aiken, the ace goal shooter for the Jamaica Sunshine Girls, helped the Firebirds make the better start and they appeared to be well placed for victory when they finished the third period ahead, 37-33. But the Thunderbirds fought back brilliantly to level the scores with 20 ticks left on the clock and gained a turnover with just seconds remaining, which led to a penalty shot.
Kate Beveridge made no mistake, as the Thunderbirds cemented third spot on the table and left the Firebirds shell-shocked.
Aiken's accuracy and the solid open play from her teammates, as well as easy turnovers from the Thunderbirds, helped the Firebirds to an early lead.
The Thunderbirds, however, found their rhythm on the back of some trademark swift transitional through-court play and succeeded in narrowing the lead to 14-13 at the first break.
The second stanza followed a similar pattern and the Thunderbirds made life difficult for Aiken when they started to double-team her, which allowed them to draw nearer and keep things tight at the half with the Firebirds ahead 25-24.
Aiken scored 43 goals from 54 attempts and is 11th on the shooters' list with an 81.5 per cent shooting average.
In another match with Jamaican interest, the Central Pulse welcomed back inspiring Sunshine Girls import Althea Byfield after a mandatory stand-down for concussion three weeks ago. But the bottom-of-the-table Pulse still slumped to their seventh straight defeat, when the Mercury Energy Tactix snapped their losing streak with a hard-fought 49-46 win.
Well in the hunt throughout, the Pulse lacked the necessary patience and accuracy at crucial times as they were denied their first win, while the Tactix chalked up just their second success of the campaign.