After a faltering first half the New Zealand Tall Ferns eventually recorded a fourth straight victory at the William Jones Cup in Taiwan beating Chinese Taipei B 88-66.
It wasn’t straightforward as the Kiwis trailed 42-39 at half-time before dominating proceedings after the break.
In their final game New Zealand face Japan on Sunday (7pm NZT). With the two teams boasting the best records at the tournament, the tie effectively becomes the William Jones Cup championship game.
Penina Davidson scored a very efficient 18 points (8/9FG) and added 15 rebounds whilst Kalani Purcell produced 10 points, 13 rebounds, 5 blocks and 3 steals. Stella Beck followed up her 28 points yesterday with an accomplished 17 points and there was production off the bench from Brooke Blair (12 points), Tessa Boagni (10 points and 6 rebounds), Akiene-Tera Reed (6 points) and Alyssa Hirawani (4 points).
New Zealand Head Coach Guy Molloy said, “It was our fourth straight day of playing and we just lacked energy in the first half, trailing by three points at the break.
“But the team rallied around a strong defensive performance and excellent shooting to explode for a 30 points third quarter.
“We now look forward to meeting Japan tomorrow to determine the William Jones Cup champions for 2018,” he added.
New Zealand struggled to get into their offensive flow early on and also leaked too many points as they trailed the Taipei second stringers 22-19 at quarter time.
An 11-2 run at the start of the second period, that included seven points from Davidson and four from Reed, took New Zealand into a 30-26 lead.
However Taipei B regained their early ascendancy to lead 42-39 at half-time – 1 made shot from 10 three-point attempts was a reflection of the Kiwis below par first half performance.
Purcell, quiet in the first half, scored five quick points as the Kiwis started the second half with a greater degree of urgency. Beck joined Davidson in double figures – a 15-2 run giving New Zealand a 54-44 lead.
Beck scored 12 points in a period dominated by the Kiwis as they carried a 69-55 lead into the final stanza.
A 19-11 final period meant New Zealand had outscored their hosts 49-24 in the second half to stamp their authority on the game and remain unbeaten.
New Zealand 88 – P Davidson 18/15r, S Beck 17/7a, B Blair 12, K Purcell 10/13r, T Boagni 10, A Karaitiana 9, T Reed 6, A Hirawani 4, J Beckley 2
Chinese Taipei B 66 – W Chun 28, H Liu 16
It is the 40th edition of the William Jones Cup, the six-team tournament played in a straight round robin format.
In addition to New Zealand (ranked 42nd in the world) the tournament features South Korea (16th), Chinese Taipei (40th), Chinese Taipei 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.