The Aon Junior Tall Ferns bid to claim a berth at the 2019 FIBA U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup came to an end in Bangalore, India last night.
The JTF’s were beaten 82-66 by Australia in a preliminary semi-final tie at the U18 Asian Championships on Thursday. Australia not only secured a semi-final spot but, along with the other three semi-finalists, a place at the U19 World Cup in Bangkok, Thailand next July.
Seven minutes into the third quarter the Kiwis trailed by thirty points (60-30) and looked to headed to a flogging. However, led by the outstanding Ella Bradley (14 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals in a game high thirty-five minutes), the Australian advantage was slowly eroded as the JTF’s mounted a spirited riposte.
The Waikato forward scored ten straight points for NZ as they closed the third frame trailing 65-44.
Charlisse Leger-Walker opened the fourth quarter scoring but fouled out shortly afterwards. Tayla Dalton picked up the slack scoring eight straight points and the Australian lead was down to fifteen (69-54).
Bradley and Leah Mafua combined to keep the deficit at fifteen (75-60) with five minutes to play. Grace Hunter then unleashed back-to back triples and with two minutes to play, and the Kiwis closing, Australia were looking over their shoulders and needed a timeout (77-66).
The Kiwi comeback ended there as he Aussies re-grouped to close out the game and advance to the semi-finals.
Earlier the Australians, beaten by Korea in their final pool game, were in no mood to drop consecutive games opening up proceedings with the first nine points of the game before Rochelle Fourie got the Kiwi scoreboard moving.
Charlotte Whittaker picking up two personal fouls in the opening three minutes was a set back for New Zealand that trailed 23-15 at quarter-time – 6 points in the quarter from Mafua.
Whittaker made her first score of the game to open the second period before Hunter netted a triple. A Koha Lewis And-1 meant the Australia lead was just four points (27-23) but the Kiwis suffered a set back with Leger-Walker picking up her fourth foul.
Without their influential playmaker New Zealand gave up 11 straight points to trail 41-25 at half-time.
Another 19-5 Aussie run preceded the New Zealand revival, the JTF’s left to rue giving their opponents such a massive lead that they couldn’t quite reel in.
NZ 66 – E Bradley 14/12r, L Mafua 13, T Dalton 10, G Hunter 9, K Lewis 5/6r, C Leger-Walker 5/6r, R Fourie 5, E Shearer 3, C Whittaker 2