The Northern Stars lose 61-64 in another tight battle to the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic in ANZ Premiership action in Mount Maunganui.
The Stars turned in a much-improved performance on Wednesday night after losing by eleven goals the last time the two sides met.
The Magic were off to a flyer, jumping out to a 8-2 lead before a Ioane intercept ignited the team into a run of four goals.
Interim replacement player Anna Thompson had earned the start at center in her 150th national league match.
Stars assistant coach Temepara Bailey says the planned move allowed Holly Fowler to move back into a much more familiar role of goal defence.
"Holly is a grafter, she’s such an athletic defensive player and we knew that she would go well up against her opponent and I think she did and came away with ball."
Thompson made a cameo appearance off the bench last week for the Stars against the Steel.
Bailey adds, "having Anna in the middle with her experience, Grace was relieved and she could concentrate on her own job."
The battle between New Zealand U21 team mates Maia Wilson and Kate Lloyd was a tight tussle as neither player gave an inch. Wilson winning the battle eventually sending Lloyd to the bench later in the match.
The Stars looked a hungrier outfit as the new look midcourt started to find their radar into their shooters to draw level in the second quarter.
Fowler and Kate Burley worked tirelessly on defence with Fa’amu Ioane commanding the ball driving through court.
Handling errors and missed shots towards the end of the second quarter let the magic establish another run of goals and take a 32-29 lead into half time.
Olivia Coughlan replaced Burley in the third quarter to try and stop the flow of ball into Magic’s Lenize Potgieter and Monica Falkner.
The Stars were only one goal behind for much of the third quarter before the Magic made a change in their shooting end moving Casey Kopua into goal keep and bringing on Katherine Levien into goal defence.
The change worked well for the Magic as they took a four-goal lead into three quarter time 45-49.
Ellen Halpenny replaced Griffin for the final quarter and Burley was brought back into the match as ball was finding Potgieter’s hands at a rapid rate.
The Stars fought hard through the final fifteen as Wilson leveled the scores at 57-all with six and a half minutes left.
Unfortunately, critical moments let the team down once again with the Magic holding strong to secure the win.
Next up for the Northern Stars is the Tactix at Pulman Arena, Takanini on Monday 18 June at 7.40pm.