The New Zealand Women fell 66-64 in overtime to Mali at the FIBA Under 17 World Cup in Minsk, Belarus on Saturday.
A victory would have given New Zealand a top ten finish in their first ever appearance at a Women’s FIBA Age-Group World Cup but the Kiwis, after controlling most of the contest, were stunned by a late Mali revival.
In a bruising encounter New Zealand led 46-32 at three-quarter time and appeared on track for consecutive wins after defeating Belarus the previous day.
When Charlisse Leger-Walker (25 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists) and Tara Manumaleuga (14 points) scored on consecutive plays New Zealand led 57-46. However, plagued by turnovers, the Kiwis were outscored 11-0 by the African champions in the closing three and a half minutes.
Leger-Walker drove to the basket on the final possession in regulation but the referees put their whistles away, ignoring clumsy Mali defence, and overtime ensued.
Shauna Povey, Tayla Dalton and Leger-Walker scored in overtime to restore the New Zealand advantage (63-60) but again the Kiwis were outscored in the dying stages and lost a game they will feel they should have won.
New Zealand Head Coach Lori McDaniel was, like her players, very disappointed with the result.
“It was a tough battle that came down to the wire. Again we were plagued by costly turnovers in a very physical battle.
“Mali never gave up and credit to them for battling through for the win.
“We are putting together some great stretches of basketball and as we get the opportunity to play more top level competition, we will become better decision makers which will enable us to not just compete against these high ranking teams but beat them.”
The Kiwis now face Asian heavyweights China in a play-off for 11th and 12th places (tip-off 00.30 Monday NZT).
When the teams met at the 2017 Asian Championship China ran out comfortable winners in the bronze medal game and the Kiwis will be keen to avenge that defeat on the final day in Belarus.
France and USA will contest the World Cup Final.
NZ 64 - C Leger-Walker 25/11r, T Manumaleuga 14, S Pupuke-Robati 13/7r, T Dalton 6, S Povey 4, E Bradley 2, J Kailahi-Fulu 0/9r
Mali 66 – S Kone 21, A Sangare 20
New Zealand finished fourth at the FIBA Asian Championship in India last October to clinch a spot at the World Cup. The tournament is an historic occasion as it is the first FIBA Age-Group World Cup ever attended by a New Zealand Women’s team.
New Zealand U17 Team:
Ella Bradley (Waikato Basketball Association/Waikato Wizards)
Isabelle Cook (Taranaki Basketball Association/Taranaki Thunder)
Tayla Dalton (North Harbour Basketball/Harbour Breeze)
Madison Hema (New Zealand)
Jazzmyne Kailahi-Fulu (North Harbour Basketball/Harbour Breeze)
Charlisse Leger-Walker (Waikato Basketball Association/Waikato Wizards)
Tara Manumaleuga (New Zealand)
Helen Matthews (Canterbury Basketball)
Kyra Paniora (New Zealand)
Sharne Pupuke-Robati (Counties Manukau Basketball/Auckland Dream)
Shauna Povey (Waitakere West Basketball Inc /Auckland Dream)
Emilee Tahata (New Zealand)
The U17 World Cup fixture schedules and box scores can be found on the link below. Live streaming of all games is also be available on this link.
For more information go to www.NZ.basketball and the @BasketballNZ social media channels: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
Tournament hashtag: #FIBAU17. Team Hashtag: #BBNZU17