The NZ U15 Girls team have earnt a tough 78-70 win over Samoa, in their first game of the FIBA U15 Oceania Championships in Guam.
The Kiwis saw their 25-14 lead disappear in the 2nd quarter thanks to a Samoa comeback; the score tied at 42 all at the half before New Zealand embarked on an impressive fourth quarter run for the win. Coach Mel Bennett’s team overcame some shaky shooting – hitting only 14% (6-43) from downtown and 28% overall on their shots – with a fierce brand of defence that forced Samoa to commit 32 turnovers; New Zealand scoring 28 points off turnovers and owning a 21-6 advantage on the fast break.
Pahlyss Hokianga-Heather led all scores with 23 points, 6 rebounds & 4 steals for New Zealand, while Bailey Flavell had 16 & 8 and Storey Sadler scored 13 points, 5 rebounds & 4 assists before succumbing to an injury in the fourth. Graecyn Parahi had 7 points & 10 rebounds while Sophia Hickey registered 5 & 13 – this duo combining for 12 of New Zealand’s 28 offensive rebounds as the Kiwi’s won the rebounding battle, despite giving up size to Samoa.
For Samoa, Jennifer Mailei led with 17 points & 11 rebounds, Harmony Seumanutafa had 16, Vanessa Tavete registered 13 points and Sina Tofilau Oliva with 11.
The first quarter saw Samoa score first, but with New Zealand responding with a 10-0 run to build out an early 10-2 lead; Sadler and Flavell impressing with triples and the Kiwis forcing Samoa into multiple turnovers.
Samoa came out strong in the second period with a 6-0 run as their shots started to fall. They tied the game at 32 all with 5 minutes left, with the lead changing hands on multiple occasions; the score set at 42 all heading into the break as Samoa outscored the Kiwis 29-18 in the period.
New Zealand reclaimed the lead in the third period thanks in part to their continued defensive pressure – a timely three by Hokianga-Heather helping to give the Kiwis a 5-point lead heading into the fourth. Samoa wasn’t helping matters either, as the fouls started to pile up for leading scorers Seumanutafa and Mailei.
An injury to Sadler on a defensive play, saw her leave the game for good with just over six minutes left in the period. This seemed to fire the Kiwis up, as they went on an 8-0 run almost immediately after – thanks to multiple steals by Flavell and Hokianga-Heather – to push the lead out to 75-62 with four minutes left, as the New Zealand Under 15 Girls held on for their first win of the tournament.
Next up for the U15 Girls is a clash with Australia at 3.15pm NZT tomorrow; catch it live on nz.basketball/tv
The New Zealand Under 15 Girl’s team is proudly supported by Hanley’s Farm.
New Zealand 78 – Hokianga-Heather 23 PTS & 6 REB & 4 STL | Flavell 16 PTS & 8 REB | Sadler 13 PTS & 5 REB & 4 AST| Parahi 7 PTS & 10 REB | Hickey 5 PTS & 13 REB | Rogers 6 PTS & 5 REB | Nelson 6 PTS | Douglas–Karauna 2 PTS
Samoa 70 – Mailei 17 PTS & 11 REB | Seumanutafa 16 PTS | Tavete 13 PTS | Tofilau Oliva 11 PTS
Quarter scores: 25-14, 43-43, 63-58, 78-70.
Full box score: http://bbnz.link/it0bi