Late Lightning strike downs gallant Magpies
Collingwood's tumultuous week has ended on a heartbreaking note with a valiant 66-62 loss to Sunshine Coast Lightning at UniSC Arena.
The Magpies, who announced on Thursday they would be withdrawing from the Super Netball competition at the end of the season, threw everything at the Lightning on Saturday in a performance they justifiably could be proud of.
With the scores tied at 62-all entering the final 90 seconds, Sunshine Coast captain Steph Wood buried a clutch super shot before Sophie Garbin missed the equaliser from long range at the other end.
Two more goals to Cara Koenen sealed victory, snapping the Lightning's four-game losing streak and leaving an emotional Collingwood coach Nicole Richardson in tears after the final bell.
"I can't imagine the week that they (Magpies) have had," Lightning's Wood said.
"It's a pretty crappy position for them to be in.
"For them to turn up and play the way they did, it's a massive credit to the character of their team.
"We kept fighting ... we clawed that deficit back and I'm really proud."
Collingwood received a spine-tingling standing ovation from the Sunshine Coast supporters before the game and cast aside a taxing week off the court with a bright start on it.
Shimona Nelson nailed 19 shots without a miss to put the Magpies up 19-17 at quartertime before adding another 16 in the second, including a goal on the halftime buzzer, to stretch Collingwood's buffer to 39-32.
Nelson's combination in the circle with Garbin, who buried four shots and drilled nine assists for the term, was giving the hosts headaches, as was the industriousness of centre Molly Jovic, who was outstanding in her 50th game.
The Lightning started the third term with a 5-0 burst, with Laura Scherian and Mahalia Cassidy looking dangerous with their midcourt playmaking and Karla Pretorius getting on top of Garbin.
Koenen gave Sunshine Coast their first lead midway through the quarter, which they dominated 20-10 to move ahead 52-49 at three-quarter-time before fighting off the gallant Pies' rearguard down the stretch.