The Tall Ferns were dealt a double dose of misery at the FIBA Asia Women’s World Cup in Bangalore on Thursday.
The 64-49 quarter-final loss to Korea not only denied the Ferns a semi-final encounter with Australia but also ruled them out of the FIBA Women’s World Cup in Spain next year.
The Kiwis were left to rue a disastrous second quarter when they were outscored 26-6 to trail Korea 34-20 at half-time.
A spirited fight back saw the Tall Ferns close to within four points late in the second period and again in the third frame but on each occasion Korea were able to hold New Zealand at bay.
It had all looked rosy for the Tall Ferns early on as they led 14-8 at quarter time with five different players contributing on the scoreboard.
Toni Edmondson and Natalie Taylor opened the second quarter scoring but what followed was a horror show from the Tall Ferns. They were outscored 23-0 in the last seven minutes of the first half to leave themselves a mountain to climb in the second half.
Eight straight points from Micaela Cocks including a pair of threes – the Kiwis first triples of the game – gave the Tall Ferns hope as the lead fell to single figures.
Harmon then scored seven points on the trot for the Kiwis before Edmondson closed the stanza with a buzzer beating three. Korea led 45-38 with 10 minutes to play – the half-time mountain reduced to a hill.
Cocks nailed her third three of the game as the Tall Ferns cut the lead to 47-43 and with Edmondson and Harmon keeping the score moving it was 49-45 with 6 minutes to play and a major comeback on the cards.
However the Kiwis went scoreless in the next three minutes to trail 54-45 with three minutes to play and although Paalvast and Purcell made further scores Korea controlled the closing stages to progress to the semi-finals and the 2018 World Cup.
Harmon once again came up with a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds. Edmondson and Cocks scored 11 points apiece but the other New Zealand scoring threats were largely kept in check by Korea.
The Tall Ferns managed just 29% shooting from the field (19 from 66) compared with 41% (27 from 66) from their opponents.
“We had plenty of looks but some days they get it done and others they don’t, you have days like that,” said Tall Ferns coach Kennedy Kereama.
Kereama was pleased with the comeback staged by his team in the second half.
“We never lie down and die, I’m very proud of the team. Playing in Asia will make us a lot better but it may take us a couple of cycles, four to eight years, to gain the full benefit,” he added
The Tall Ferns will now play for places 5-8 at the Asia Cup beginning with a match against the DPR of Korea on Friday (Tip-off 5.30pm NZ time).
Tall Ferns 49 – Harmon 13p/10r, Cocks 11, Edmondson 11/9r, Paalvast 6, Purcell 4p/9r, Stockill 2, Taylor 2
Korea 64 – J Park 19, Y Lim 14, J Kwak 11