West Coast Fever gave up a seven-goal lead to go down to the NSW Swifts 58-47 at Perth Arena tonight.
The Fever started brightly in front of a crowd of 5079 - well short of the ANZ Championship record crowd of 8510 they had been hoping for prior to the one-off fixture at the stadium - but couldn't sustain it against one of the top-four sides.
Goal shooter Caitlin Bassett had an enthralling battle with her Australian Diamonds teammate Sharni Layton, with the dogged defender winning several crucial intercepts and deflections in the second half to help give her side the edge.
Bassett finished with 31 goals from 37 attempts, while captain Nat Medhurst shot 16 goals.
Swifts spearhead Caitlin Thwaites (33/42) missed several goals but was repeatedly able to win her own rebounds. Susan Pratley sank several long bombs to finish with 25.
Both teams mixed it up through the midcourt throughout the match, and young speedster Ingrid Colyer showed plenty at centre before tiring and swapping with Khao Watts at wing attack.
Swifts star Kimberlee Green started at wing attack but regularly swapped back into centre with Sarah Wall.
Shae Bolton battled hard at wing defence with one intercept and six deflections, while Josie Janz and Eboni Beckford-Chambers also gave the attacking end plenty of chances to convert.
A fired-up West Coast won two turnovers in the opening minutes to skip out to a 3-0 lead before the visitors fought back to make it a scrap. The Fever again made a break, moving four goals ahead before NSW brought it back to a two-goal margin at the first break.
The Swifts made the early running in the second after moving captan Green into centre with consecutive goals to Thwaites seeing them draw level. But the Fever defenders continually won the ball back for their side and the home side soon had a seven-goal lead. Medhurst gave up the ball to the Swifts with 30 seconds remaining to allow Thwaites to bring it back to a five-goal deficit at the long change.
It was goal for goal in the third term before the Fever gave up the ball in the goal circle to allow NSW to charge. A determined West Coast maintained a two-goal buffer until late when two costly turnovers cost the home side and left them one goal down going into the last quarter.
Chelsea Pitman and Courtney Bruce were brought into the game for the final term but those moves didn't work out as the visitors got right on top. The Fever continually gave up the ball as the margin continued to blow out. Janz returned to the court but West Coast could not halt the Swifts' momentum. NSW dominated the final quarter 18-8 to maintain third place on the ladder.