First on court at the William Jones Cup in Taiwan on Wednesday the Tall Ferns produced a commanding performance to thrash India 114-39.
Guard Ashleigh Karaitiana led the Kiwis with 38 points (14/23 FG, 7/13 3PG) as a number of other players posted big numbers.
Forward Penina Davidson produced a double-double of 12 points and 15 rebounds with Jacinta Beckley, Stella Beck and Brooke Blair each scoring in double figures. Forwards Tessa Boagni (9 points and 10 rebounds) and Kalani Purcell (9 points and 8 rebounds) were close to double-doubles and Tera-Akiene Reed added 6 points to 9 rebounds in just less than ten minutes of action.
Tall Ferns Head Coach Guy Molloy was pleased his team, after becoming battle-hardened in Japan, was able to put on a relentless display.
"Although the win became easy, what was pleasing was the Tall Ferns game style on display - as it was at the Commonwealth Games but with a new group of players. I am pleased we have had such rapid buy-in from a talented group of young players," said Molloy.
Karaitiana was quickly into her offensive stride as the Tall Ferns put together a dominant opening period to lead 34-8 after ten minutes. The Melbourne based guard amassed 16 points, and Beck scored 8 points in the spell.
The other three starters Beckley, Davidson and Purcell also made scores as the advantage stretched to 42-12.
Blair knocked down a pair of threes, Karaitiana took her tally into the twenties and Davidson added six points to ten rebounds as the Kiwis took a 56-17 lead into the half-time break.
India held their own in the opening stages of the second half but they couldn’t stay with New Zealand for long, the lead ballooning out to 89-32 at the three-quarter mark – India kept to just nine points in the final stanza – as the margin continued to grow.
New Zealand 114 – A Karaitiana 38, P Davidson 12/15r, J Beckley 12, S Beck 12/7a, B Blair 11, K Purcell 9/8r/5st, T Boagni 9/10r, T Reed 6/9r, N Ruske 5
India 39 – R Sidhu 10, J Skaria 8
It is the 40th edition of the William Jones Cup, the six-team tournament played in a straight round robin format. New Zealand will take on South Korea on Thursday, tip-off 9.00pm (NZT)
In addition to New Zealand (ranked 42nd in the world) the tournament will feature South Korea (16th), China (10th), China B and India (45th) and Japan, the Asian champions ranked 13th in the world
Only Kalani Purcell remains from the team that won bronze at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April for the upcoming tour. (More on the team selection here).
Photo credit: Angela Ruske
New Zealand Tall Ferns Team
Stella Beck (Townsville Flames/Formerly St Mary’s College, California)
Jacinta Beckley (Formerly Seattle University)
Brooke Blair (Harbour Breeze/ Rockhampton Cyclones/Formerly Idaho State University)
Tessa Boagni (Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats/Formerly California State University, Northridge)
Penina Davidson (Harbour Breeze/Formerly University of California, Berkeley)
Alyssa Hirawani (Waikato Wizards/Formerly Murray State College)
Ashleigh Karaitiana (Bendigo Spirit)
Kalani Purcell (Melbourne Boomers/South West Metro Pirates)
Tera-Akiene Reed (Harbour Breeze/Virginia Commonwealth University)
Nicole Ruske (Otago Gold Rush)
Tall Ferns Schedule at William Jones Cup
July 25 v India
July 26 v South Korea
July 27 v China
July 28 v China B
July 29 v Japan
Link to William Jones Cup website for draw and box scores.