After three consecutive losses AM I FIT Otago Goldrush resurrected their Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC) Division 1 top four aspirations with a pair of road wins against Taranaki Thunder and Waikato Wizards.
In other Round 5 Division 1 action Auckland Dream beat Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats to record a sixth straight win and in Division 2 Rotorua Lady Geysers proved too strong for Northland Phoenix.
Division 1 Results
Friday June 7 - Taranaki Thunder 46 AM I FIT Otago Goldrush 90
AM I FIT Otago Goldrush, buoyed by the return of Zoe and Brittany Richards following sophomore year commitments at their respective American colleges, ran out comfortable 90-46 winners against Taranaki Thunder. The pair posted a combined 30 points and with Nicole Ruske also in fine form Goldrush recorded their second win of the season.
Raquel Sampson with 18 points and 7 rebounds was a standout for the Thunder but once the home side had given up a 22-points lead (31-9) in the first quarter it was always going to be a long night for the hosts.
Teesha Smith scored the first points of the game as the Thunder sprung a 6-0 lead but Ruske replied with her first three of the night and would go on to make 6 from 9 from beyond the arc.
Goldrush then silenced the home crowd scored a stunning 26 points without reply before Sampson made a couple of free throws.
Bronwyn Kjestrup got in on the three-point action early in the second quarter as the lead stretched beyond 30 points – the half-time advantage 63-24.
Natalie Smith (9 points and 10 rebounds) was close to a double-double for the visitors and Tayla Murray (11 points and 4 rebounds) continued her recent good form for the Thunder but it was always going to be Goldrush’s night after that early rush of points.
- Thunder 46 – R Sampson 18/7r, T Murray 11, T Smith 6/4a
- Goldrush 90 – N Ruske 23, Z Richards 21, N Smith 9/10r, B Richards 9, H Matehaere 9
Saturday June 8 – Waikato Wizards 51 AM I FIT Otago Goldrush 58
On the back of a strong second half showing AM I FIT Otago Goldrush made it two wins in two days after beating Waikato Wizards 58-51 on Saturday.
The Wizards led 38-33 at half-time but were kept to just 13 points in the second half by the miserly Goldrush defence.
Eckerd College junior Zoe Richards (17 points) recorded her second double figure outing of the weekend and Natalie Smith posted a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds. 2018 Tall Fern Alyssa Hirawani led the Wizards scoring while 16 year-old shooting guard Jayzelee Waihi contributed a dozen points.
Hirawani made half of the Wizards points as they forged a 20-14 lead in the opening stanza.
A Waihi step back three opened the scoring in the second but a pair of Brittany Richards triples kept Goldrush in touch trailing 38-33 at half-time.
Zoe Richards scored the first seven points of the third quarter, a period in which the Wizards shooting went ice cold. Hirawani made a three but that was the only score of the frame for the 2018 finalists - Goldrush ahead 46-41 at three-quarter time.
Hirawani knocked down another three to pull the Wizards within two points (50-48) but Nicole Ruske responded in kind on the next possession to hold the Wizards at bay. Another three, this time from Waihi, tested the Goldrush nerves but the defending champions held firm and fittingly it was Zoe Richards, the game’s leading scorer, that iced the game from the free throw line.
- Wizards 51 - A Hirawani 16, J Waihi 12, E Bradley 8/13r, K Lewis 6/8r, N Lenden 2/6a
- Gold Rush – Z Richards 17/8r, N Smith 15/11r, N Visger 6/7r, B Richards 6
Saturday June 8 – Auckland Dream 72 Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats 62
Auckland Dream recorded a sixth straight victory and strengthened its grip at the top of the Division 1 table outlasting Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats to win 72-62.
The battle in the paint between Kalani Purcell and Milomilo Nanai for the Dream and the Wildcats pair Tessa Boagni and Marita Davydova lived up to the pre-game expectations that their confrontation would be something to savour. The four contributed hugely to an entertaining game but ultimately it was the experienced Auckland guard line-up that proved to be the difference between the teams.
Natalie Taylor with a game high 18 points (3/6 3PG), fellow Tall Fern Jordan Hunter with 10 points (and 9 assists) and American Casyn Buchman posed serious questions for the Wildcats at both ends of the floor. They not only outscored their opposition counterparts but hustled the visitors into 23 turnovers, a number Wildcats Head Coach Lori McDaniel admitted was far too many.
Nine of those turnovers came in the decisive third quarter when the Dream turned a 41-34 deficit into a 57-43 lead. Hunter and Taylor combined for 15 points during that time and Hailey Moala added rebounding and scoring potency off the bench as the Dream took control of proceedings.
Laken Wairau reduced the Dream advantage to eight points with 2:23 to play but that was as close as the 2017 champions could get.
Earlier it had been anything but plain sailing for the league leaders as the Wildcats opened a 20-11 lead – the floor running of Davydova and Boagni particularly impressive as they beat defenders down the court to score easy transition baskets.
The industrious Tessa Morrison stretched the Wildcats advantage to 26-14 before Purcell and Taylor trimmed the lead. An Ajiah Pepe jump shot kept the Wildcats ahead at half-time but that advantage soon evaporated in the pivotal third period.
- Dream 72 – N Taylor 18, K Purcell 15/10r, M Nanai 11/7r, J Hunter 10/9a, C Buchman 8
- Wildcats 62 – M Davydova 14/15r, T Boagni 14/10r, T Morrison 8, S Wairau 8, A Pepe 7
Division 2 Result
Saturday June 8 – Northland Phoenix 47 Rotorua Lady Geysers 60
Northland Phoenix hosted their first WBC home game in Whangarei on Saturday but the Rotorua Lady Geysers dampened the celebrations stealing a 60-47 victory.
Rotorua jumped out to a 21-9 first quarter lead and although the Phoenix won two of the remaining quarters they had dug themselves too big a hole in the opening ten minutes.
Leiani Tautiepa and Jaimee-Lee Tito (17 points and 13 rebounds) posted points on a regular basis for the Phoenix during the second quarter but Nadine Stone and Aroha Haumaha (15 points and 10 rebounds), the Lady Geysers leading scorer this season, kept the visitors ahead at the break (34-23).
Despite the Phoenix Leylanni Cameron-Tana and Karina Hemmington making the first scores of the period the Lady Geysers extended their lead in the third. A Pareunuora Pene triple and four points apiece from Rawi Nuku and Ema Pene gave the Lady Geysers a 50-34 lead with ten minutes to play.
The Lady Geysers kept a double figure lead throughout the closing minutes to register their second win of the season and move to fifth on the table.
- Phoenix 47 – J Tito 17/13r, L Cameron-Tana 15, L Tautiepa 8, K Hemmington 7
- Lady Geysers 60 – A Haumaha 15/10r, P Pene 10, N Stone 9, E Pene 8/8r
WBC Division 1 Standings
- 6-0 Auckland Dream
- 4-2 Harbour Breeze
- 3-4 AM I FIT Otago Gold Rush
- 3-3 Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats, Waikato Wizards
- 0-7 Taranaki Thunder
WBC Division 2 Standings
- 3-2 Harbour Zephyr
- 2-4 Rotorua Lady Geysers
- 3-0 North Canterbury Spirit, Wellington
- 1-4 Northland Phoenix
- 2-1 Capital Swish
- 0-3 South Canterbury Stealers
Article by Mike Lacey
Photo Credit Angela Ruske
- Watch selected 2019 Women’s Basketball Championship games through livestream on BBNZ’s Facebook @basketballNZ hashtag #NZWBC or website www.nz.basketball/tv.
- Livestream games for round 5 was Taranaki Thunder vs I AM FIT Otago Gold Rush AND Auckland Dream vs Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats.
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