The Tall Ferns bounced back from the disappointment of the semi-final loss to South Korea by beating North Korea 82-61 at the FIBA Asia Cup in Bangalore on Friday.
In a classification game for places 5-8 the Kiwis made a lightning start winning the opening period 31-8 and largely dominated proceedings thereafter pushing the lead out to as many as thirty two points early in the fourth period.
Tall Ferns head coach Kennedy Kereama was pleased with the way his team responded after the disappointment of the quarter-final loss. “They bounced back very quickly – we could have easily been hanging our heads and feeling sorry for ourselves. Fifth place is a prestigious ranking and we are trying hard to get there,” he said.
Kalani Purcell came up with a customary double-double -13 points and 14 rebounds - Jillian Harmon, the leading rebounder in the tournament, collected 9 boards and 15 points and there was a good showing from rookie point guard Georgia Agnew (10 points and 8 rebounds).
As in the pool game Korea called a timeout inside the first two minutes after Toni Edmonson and Harmon opened a 5-0 lead.
The Tall Ferns went on to score the first ten points of the game and with Harmon making 9 points in the stanza, and Georgia Agnew 5 points, the lead blew out 31-8 by quarter time.
Korea dealt almost exclusively in threes in the second stanza making four shots from beyond the arc but the Tall Ferns were able to counter through a variety of scorers. Micaela Cocks scored her second triple of the game – she and Agnew had 7 points in the first half but Harmon led all scorers at the break with13 points as the Ferns led 49-25 at the interval.
Toni Edmondson scored the first four points of the second half and although Korea landed more threes New Zealand stretched its lead to almost thirty points – Kalani Pucell grabbed her tenth rebound of the game and celebrated by going coast-to-coast for a basket to keep ahead 63-34.
Agnew moved her points count into double figures and when Nat Taylor beat the three-quarter time buzzer the lead was 71-41 with ten minutes to play.
Korea won the fourth period but it was largely academic as the Tall Ferns thoughts turned to a 5th/6th play-off game against Chinese Taipei on Saturday (7.45pm tip-off NZ time).
Tall Ferns 82 - Harmon 15, Purcell 13, Cocks 10, Agnew 10, Taylor 8, Edmondson 7, Paalvast 7, Bygate 7, Ott 3, Stockill 2
DPR of Korea 61 – J Ri 19, H Kim 17, S Ro 11