Launceston Tornadoes for the first three quarters just toyed the ball like yarn at Melbourne Tigers.
But the big cat scratched back to leave the hosts running out of puff in the chase at Elphin Sports Centre.
The team so synonymous with the name Gaze – Saturday night’s lineup included Courtney Gaze wearing the famous No.10 singlet – outlasted their prey to win 76-72.
Only two three-pointers from 36-year-old stalwart Ali Partridge towards the close of the tough encounter kept the Tornadoes in with a shot.
The second from well outside the arc with just under five seconds on the clock drew the margin back to two.
But top Tiger Monique Conti took a quick foul and calmly dropped both free throws to kill the game off.
Tornadoes coach Derrick Washington left the court feeling somewhat philosophical after a brilliant opening.
“We always have dramatic finishes at Elphin and this was just another one,” he said. “But we just didn’t score the basketball.
“Our first quarter we shot 25 points and then we were not able to knock shots down.
“But hats off to Melbourne Tigers in the end.”
The concern was raised when star Lauren Nicholson was innocuously fouled out of the game with 2:44 left and scores locked at 66-66.
Thirty seconds later, guard Emma Haywood fouled for a fifth time to join Nicholson on the bench for the night.
New recruit Courtney Williams moments earlier went down dramatically, at first clutching her calf after minutes lying on the floor in pain before hobbling off.
But Williams made a just as dramatic return to the court after Washington had little choice but to call the Texan back into the game.
“She only got off the plane yesterday,” he said.
“So I wasn’t expecting her to play this many minutes and she got Charley horse.
“But I had to put her in.”
After leading convincingly 25-15 at the first break, the Tigers narrowed the margin down to three points.
But the Tornadoes was quick to step up a gear.
Over the next two quarters, three times they blew the lead out to double figures.
But the famous club kept clawing its way back.
Washington said his team needs to restart their season following a second loss in a row after six straight wins.
“It’s the first game back [after the break] and we probably didn’t have our legs on a little bit,” he said.
“When they get their legs back, get the feel back and just be a little bit more patient, it’ll be fun.”
Ally Wilson was in hot early form shooting 12 in the first quarter, 19 in the first half to finish with 22 points.
Nicholson added 19 points in strong presence on court.
Ellie Collins only shot a further nine, but the rising 19-year-old also hauled in 15 monster rebounds.
Williams on her Torns debut scored her first points in the second half for just five.
Leading SEABL scorer Rebecca Cole, at times, was unstoppable to knock down 24 points and Tigers teammate Conti was polished with 22.