The New Zealand Tall Ferns won their third straight game at the William Jones Cup holding off hosts Chinese Taipei to win 69-62.
Stella Beck was outstanding scoring a career high 28 points (11/16FG, 2/4 3PG, 4/5FT) in the black singlet. Critically the former St Mary’s College standout made nine points in the final quarter as the hosts, urged on by the local crowd, threatened a late comeback.
Ashleigh Karaitiana (13 points) was in double figures for the third consecutive game, Penina Davidson (2 points) had a quiet scoring night but secured 10 rebounds, Kalani Purcell was her usual industrious self with 6 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals and Tessa Boagni contributed an important 8 points and 5 rebounds.
“The Tall Ferns played tremendous hard-nosed defence to beat the host nation in front of several thousand local fans,” said New Zealand Head Coach Guy Molloy.
“We are playing every day so we were bound to have a game where our offence and shooting abandoned us a little and that was tonight.
“However we played fantastic defence, led by Kalani Purcell who played all 40 minutes and grabbed 14 rebounds. Stella Beck was the difference offensively with 28 points in an outstanding display,“ he added.
Beck scored seven first quarter points but the Kiwis made something of a sluggish start against the hosts leading 17-14 at quarter time.
Strangely the Kiwis made 4 from 6 threes but just 1 from 8 two-point attempts.
Point guard Karaitiana spent most of the first quarter on the bench after picking up a couple of quick fouls but was quickly into her stride in the second period reeling off eight points as New Zealand established a 27-17 lead – Chinese Taipei held scoreless for almost five minutes.
Beck moved into double figures to make it 30-21 but Taipei finished the half strongly to reach the interval just five points in arrears (35-30) - Beck led all scorers with 15 points, Purcell all rebounders with 9.
Davidson was sidelined after picking up her fourth foul but Boagni filled the breach scoring eight points in the third period as New Zealand carried a 55-45 lead into the last ten minutes.
Chinese Taipei had the better of the closing minutes, edging the last period 17-14 but the Kiwis held on for a third straight win and their William Jones Cup winning hopes alive.
New Zealand 69 – S Beck 28, A Karaitiana 13, T Boagni 8, K Purcell 6/13r, J Beckley 5, N Ruske 4, B Blair 3, P Davidson 2/10r
Chinese Taipei 62 – L Ting 16, H Li 9
It is the 40th edition of the William Jones Cup, the six-team tournament played in a straight round robin format. New Zealand will next take on Chinese Taipei B on Saturday (7pm NZT).
In addition to New Zealand (ranked 42nd in the world) the tournament will feature 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. (More on the team selection here).
New Zealand Tall Ferns Team
Stella Beck (Townsville Flames/Formerly St Mary’s College, California)
Jacinta Beckley (Formerly Seattle University)
Brooke Blair (Harbour Breeze/ Rockhampton Cyclones/Formerly Idaho State University)
Tessa Boagni (Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats/Formerly California State University, Northridge)
Penina Davidson (Harbour Breeze/Formerly University of California, Berkeley)
Alyssa Hirawani (Waikato Wizards/Formerly Murray State College)
Ashleigh Karaitiana (Bendigo Spirit)
Kalani Purcell (Melbourne Boomers/South West Metro Pirates)
Akiene-Tera Reed (Harbour Breeze/Virginia Commonwealth University)
Nicole Ruske (Otago Gold Rush)
Tall Ferns Schedule at William Jones Cup
July 25 v India
July 26 v South Korea
July 27 v China
July 28 v China B
July 29 v Japan
Link to William Jones Cup website for draw and box scores.
Link to highlights from win against South Korea.