Two important games featuring four Tall Ferns players were played last weekend, one in Victoria and the other in CaliforniaTwo important games featuring four Tall Ferns players were played last weekend, one in Victoria and the other in California. Guards Micaela Cocks and Chevannah Paalvast are members of the Australian WNBL defending champion Townsville Fire and were involved in an important regular season game against archrivals Bendigo Spirit.
11,000 kilometers away on the other side of the Pacific forwards Stella Beck and Kalani Purcell were facing off for their respective NCAA Division 1 college teams Saint Mary’s University Gaels and Brigham Young University-Provo Cougars.
When it comes to rivalries in the Australian WNBL they don’t get any bigger than the Bendigo Spirit and the Townsville Fire. It is a rivalry, built over contesting the past three championship playoffs, Bendigo winning two and Townsville the defending champion.
Townsville had lost the two previous games against the Spirit this season but they limited the Spirit to just 24 first half points to score a rare win at Bendigo Stadium, 75-63, on Sunday.
The fourth consecutive win by the Fire pleased coach Chris Lucas who told the Townsville Bulletin, “It was always going to be tough but we got the job done.” The Tall Ferns assistant coach added “I’m really proud of the team, it’s a great result for us and they always do a great job on the road.” The win propelled Townsville to the top of the WNBL ladder.
Cocks, a starter in the Fire team, didn’t have her best shooting night. Her 6 points came from 8 attempts but she did also add 3 rebounds and 2 assists. Rookie Paalvast didn’t trouble the statisticians but provided her usual athletic hustle in her 12 minutes on court.
Purcell and Beck have featured strongly in West Coast Conference play all season. Purcell is the league’s leading rebounder (13.5rpg) whilst Beck, has the best field goal shooting percentage in the conference – 56%.
BYU Cougars entered the game leading the West Coast Conference standings with an 11-1 record, St Mary’s Gaels second (9-2) but it was Purcell and the Cougars that collected the spoils winning the top of the table clash 65-44.
The win was described by BYU coach Jeff Judkins as, “One of the best games we have played all year.” His team raced to a 21-5 first quarter lead and dominated proceedings thereafter.
Once again Purcell was outstanding, she had a game-best nine rebounds and 10 assists plus 6 points before fouling out in the closing minutes.
Stella Beck put in a solid performance for St Mary’s but her 4 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, I block effort failed to put much of a dent in BYU’s twelfth straight win and apparent charge towards the Conference title.
Roundup of other news featuring Tall Ferns overseas……….
Australian WNBL side South East Queensland Stars caused a major upset on Saturday defeating top of the table Perth Lynx 87-71 in Western Australia. Cantabrian Toni Edmondson could do little to help turn the tide in the hosts favour grabbing a pair of rebounds, dishing 5 assists but going 0 from 3 from the field.
It was quite a week for the Stars who called in the receivers on Wednesday, sacked coach Shane Heal but were rescued Thursday, won in Adelaide on Friday and prevailed in Perth on Saturday.
Jillian Harmon and Le Mura Lucca racked up win number 17 to head the Italian SieraA League with just a solitary loss. Lucca beat Napoli 70-57 on a rare Monday night outing. Harmon was not at her most accurate shooting 4 from 12 from the field but still racked up 12 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals and a block in another powerful display.
Erin Rooney enjoyed a weekend off at COB Calais (French League).
In other US college basketball news Colgate University Raiders fell to Navy on Saturday and now have a 2-9 record in Patriot League games. Hawkes Bay centre Josie Stockill scored 11 points and added 7 rebounds, 3 assists and a customary block as the Raiders slipped to a fourth straight loss, three of those by single digits.
Seattle University Redhawks (3-5 WAC) took an early lead but was eventually beaten 57-49 by Chicago State in Western Athletic Conference play. Forward Jacinta Beckley had 4pts (2/4FG), 2 rebs, and 1 steal for Seattle
Cal State Northridge Matadors (5-18, 3-6 BWC) lost 83-76 Saturday afternoon at UC Riverside in a Big West Conference game. Cantabrian Tessa Boagni had 8 points and 5 rebounds with the Matadors now 3-6 in conference play.
In Pac-12 Conference play Univ of California, Berkley Golden Bears went down 53-46 at No 15 ranked Stanford on Tuesday in the first of the Battle of the Bay encounters. The two fierce rivals met again on Friday but the outcome was the same as Cal was defeated at home 60-55 to slip to 2-10 in Pac-12 Conference play. Penina Davidson was a strong defensive presence for the Golden Bears accumulating 11 rebounds and 4 steals but her shooting form deserted her as she went 2 from 14 over the two games.