A strong second half performance powered the Tall Ferns to a 71-50 victory against DPR of Korea on the second day of the FIBA Asia Cup in Bangalore.
Jillian Harmon, in a performance described by the TV commentary team as “immense” led the Tall Ferns with 23 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. She was ably supported by Micaela Cocks (18 points/4 assists), Kalani Purcell (11 points/8 rebounds) and Toni Edmondson (10 points/9 rebounds).
In the opening moments Korea gave up two easy baskets to Harmon and Chevannah Paalvast and unusually called a timeout just 1:12 seconds into the game.
Paalvast stretched the early NZ advantage with the first triple of the night to open a 13-8 lead – Rebecca Ott extended that advantage with another three – NZ ahead 17-11 at quarter time.
Purcell and Cocks moved the Tall Ferns to a double figure advantage but Korea hit back with a triple. Things were complicated further as Purcell was called for a third foul and, as in the game against China, was forced to the bench for an extended spell.
A series of missed scoring opportunities allowed Korea back into the game and the lead narrowed to 22-20. Harmon broke the New Zealand scoring drought and proceeded to score the last 10 points of the half for the Kiwis to keep Korea at bay. The Tall Ferns forward led all scorers at the break with 15 points – the lead 32-25.
Harmon and Edmondson scored the first two baskets of the second period but Korea responded with 7 straight points before Cocks broke the run with a triple to keep NZ ahead – 39-32.
A Purcell drive for a score and a dish to Edmondson for a basket took New Zealand out to 48-38 with ten minutes to play.
The Tall Ferns scored the first 8 points of the fourth stanza courtesy of Purcell (twice), Edmondson and Cocks to move out to 54-38 with 7:30 to play.
Purcell and Harmon controlled the closing stages making inside baskets and dominating the boards as the lead extended to 20 points.
A pair of Cocks threes put the icing on a convincing second half performance, Korea outscored 39-25 in the half.
With a one win, one loss record the Tall Ferns face Chinese Taipei in their third and final pool game on Tuesday (Tip-off 5.30pm NZ time).
Tall Ferns 71 – Harmon 23, Cocks 18, Purcell 11, Edmondson 10, Paalvast 5, Ott 3, Agnew 1
Tall Ferns Programme:
William Jones Cup / 5-9 July / Taipei – Finished tournament with 4-1 record
Singapore Series / 11-16 July / Singapore – Won series 2-0
Preparation Camp / 18-22 July / Bangalore, India
FIBA Asia Women’s Cup (WC Qualifier) / 23-29 July, Bangalore, India