Double double performances from Charlisse Leger-Walker and Sharne Pupuke-Robati propelled New Zealand Under 16 Women to an outstanding 63-53 victory against NSW Metro on day two of the Australian State Championships in Melbourne on Sunday.
In a tight opening New Zealand led 33-30 at half-time. Guards Jordyn Maddix, Rosalia Samia and Caitlin O’Connell all landed three point efforts to compliment the 12 points registered by Charlisse Leger-Walker in the half.
The two teams went toe to toe in the third period. Pupuke-Robati made a couple of baskets and Maddix and Leger-Walker both made threes as the Kiwis maintained the advantage to lead 46-41 with ten minutes to play.
Defences dominated the first five minutes of the final period, just six points scored in that time – 4 by NSW and a solitary basket from Leger-Walker for the Kiwis.
The hyphenated pair of Leger-Walker and Pupuke-Robati extended the NZ advantage to seven, 54-47 with 3:45 to play the NSW coach calling a time out.
The same pair cancelled out a pair of NSW baskets then Gracie Hasler-Ewin pushed the advantage out to nine (60-51) with 90 seconds to play and NSW called their final timeout.
That came to nothing as Leger-Walker capped an outstanding performance by scoring the last three points of the game to lead New Zealand to a 63-53 win. The Waikato guard finished with a mighty impressive stat line of 26 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals and a block.
“We were a different team today,” enthused NZ Coach Angela Perrott-Hunt after the game.
“We learnt quickly from yesterday’s game. There was an urgency and desperation about our performance but we need to play like that every game.
“Charlisse was very good, she needed to make an adjustment after fouling out yesterday and she did just that. Now we have to prepare for two games tomorrow,” she added.
On Monday New Zealand face ACT in the morning and Vic Metro in the evening.
NZ Scorers: Leger-Walker 26/14, Pupuke-Robati 16/10, Maddix 6, Samia 4, Hasler-Ewin 4/6, O’Connell 3 Ella Bradley 2, Isabelle Cook 2
Full stats here.