After a promising start New Zealand Under 16 Women came up short against South Australia Metro in the quarter-finals of the Australian State Championships in Melbourne on Thursday losing 63-56.
New Zealand kept Metro to just 14 points in the first half but leaked fourty nine in the second.
Earlier Ella Bradley had begun the scoring with New Zealand drawing four fouls from the opposition in the first 90 seconds of the game. The opening gambit was extended to 9-0 before South Australia got on the board. The first period ended with New Zealand ahead 12-6.
13 turnovers in 13 minutes were hurting the Kiwis enough for coach Angela Perrott-Hunt to call an early timeout in the second period. Five straight points to Sharne Pupuke-Robati, who also had 13 rebounds in the first half, plus a basket to Jordyn Maddix had the Kiwis ahead 26-14 at the intermission.
A 12-4 run by Metro brought them back into the game before Maddix nailed a triple and fellow North Harbour player Gracie Hasler-Ewin nabbed a pair of baskets to keep New Zealand ahead 44-38 at the three-quarter mark.
A three from Charlisse Leger-Walker and a two from Bradley kick started the fourth. South Australia Metro then made a move scoring eight straight points to take them into the lead for the first time in the game.
Pupuke-Robati made back to back baskets to draw New Zealand to within two points, 56-54, with 2:23 to play. However it was SA that controlled the closing stages as they won the final decisive quarter 25-12 to secure the victory.
Pupuke-Robati was outstanding for the Kiwis nabbing a double double of 19 points and 16 rebounds as well as dishing 6 assists, her team left to rue 32 turnovers.
New Zealand will now play-off for places 5-8 on the final two days of the tournament.
NZ Scorers: Sharne Pupuke-Robati 19/16/6, Charlisse Leger-Walker 9/9, Jordyn Maddix 6, Ella Bradley 8, Gracie Hasler-Ewin 6/10, Isabelle Cook 2, Caitlin O’Connell 4, Rashan Smith 2