The New Zealand Tall Ferns made it two wins from two outings at the William Jones Cup in Taiwan after defeating South Korea 73-61 last night.
Ahead by 18 points at three-quarter time the Kiwis gave valuable playing time to some of the less experienced players in the squad in the final period, enabling Korea to close to within ten points.
As she had the previous day in the win against the Philippines it was Olympian Micaela Cocks that led the way with 20 points (7/9FG, 4/4FT) and it was the Kiwi captain that sunk free-throws down the stretch to seal a second win in as many days.
Stella Beck and Penina Davidson supported Cocks with 13 points apiece, Tessa Boagni had 10 points and Kalani Purcell was all hustle with 7 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists and a couple of steals.
Tall Ferns Head Coach Guy Molloy was pleased with his team’s performance.
“A very impressive first half set up a solid win today. We led comfortably at half-time and the margin remained around twenty points for most of the way after that.
“We played most of our young players in the fourth quarter to give them some pressure experience and that gave the Koreans a little momentum to close the gap but we were never under threat of losing,” said Molloy
“We gave a very good defence display for most of the game and locked the opposition down quite well.
“On offense we didn’t hit the three-ball with the same precision as the night before but our interior attack through Penina Davidson, Tessa Boagni and Kalani Purcell was quite strong.
“We had a good spread of scoring led by Micaela (Cocks) with twenty points We shot 50% of our two’s and 33% from the three-point line and also connected with our free-throws very well (18 from 22 at 81%) – good enough to get the win,” added Molloy.
Harbour Breeze forward Penina Davidson scored 8 points and with Stella Beck and Charlisse Leger-Walker converting New Zealand’s first two three-point attempts the Kiwis led 23-15 at quarter time.
Cocks initiated the Kiwis scoring in the second frame by dropping a pair of triples and when Beck scored a brace of buckets the New Zealand lead was out to 41-25.
Cocks, Davidson and Beck were in double figures by half-time with the Tall Ferns holding a 45-31 lead. New Zealand shot at 60% (18/30) from the field in the first half but that fell away dramatically after the break finishing at 45% (25/55).
World No 18 ranked Korea fought back as the New Zealand scoring became becalmed in the early stages of the third period – just 2 shots made from 11 attempts.
That was righted at the back end of the stanza courtesy of Boagni – the Cantabrians 7 points in the period helped the Ferns to a 64-46 three-quarter time lead.
The fourth quarter became untidy but the Tall Ferns defence of the William Jones Cup is still on track.
New Zealand will face Chinese Taipei B on Friday and expect their opponents to play a lot of zone defence similar to Korea.
NZ 73 – M Cocks 20, S Beck 13, P Davidson 13, T Boagni 10, K Purcell 7/9r/8a, C Leger-Walker 6, E Fotu 2, M Flavell 2
KOREA 61– Jeong Kim 23, Y Youm 16
William Jones Cup schedule (tip-off times NZT).
24 July New Zealand v Philippines, WON 106-72
25 July New Zealand v Korea, WON 73-61
26 July New Zealand v Chinese Taipei B, tip-off 8pm
27 July New Zealand v Chinese Taipei A, tip-off 10pm
28 July New Zealand v Japan, tip-off 8pm