Ferns rue one that got away
Tall Ferns coach Kennedy Kereama is regretting a high foul count against his team after they suffered a heart-breaking 73-75 loss to hosts China at Changzhou last night.
The NZ women’s national basketball team lead their rivals 55-51 into the final quarter, hoping to avenge a six-point loss in their tour opener last week.
But the Chinese took advantage of generous hometown officiating – they shot 29 free throws to the Ferns’ 11 for the game – to edge ahead down the stretch. At one point, the Kiwis incurred seven consecutive fouls.
“In the dying moments, we had a shot to put the game into overtime and Lisa Wallbutton had an uncontested look, but was fouled from behind on an obvious call that was missed by the baseline official,” lamented Kereama, clearly frustrated.
“I’d love the opportunity to play China in New Zealand, where they won’t have the home court advantage. We played a great game of basketball and although the officials didn’t miss the number of layups and shots we had throughout the game, they certainly contributed to the amount of free-throw shooting opportunities that China had.”
But the Ferns did generate 18 more scoring opportunities from the field, mainly through their efficient defence, and could still have won if they had converted them.
“We had a very good defensive game and forced China to beat us from the perimeter by doing a great job of keeping the ball out of the hands of their ‘bigs’.”
Guard Micaela Cocks led her team with 27 points, while forward Jillian Harmon had 20 points.
“The result was disappointing, but we have to put things in perspective and move forward,” said Kereama. “We’re playing China in China – no one is supposed to beat them here.
“The satisfying thing is we’re getting better with each game and are building momentum towards our FIBA event.”
Tonight, the Tall Ferns get a second shot at Australia’s Emerging Opals, a team that beat them by eight points last week.
China 75 NZ Tall Ferns 73 (Micaela Cocks 27, Jillian Harmon 20, Antonia Edmondson 11)
HT 34-36 (12-18)
Q3 51-55 (17-19)
FT 75-73 (24-18)