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Veteran guard Micaela Cocks was the only New Zealand player in double figures, scoring 10 points.
She received solid support from Tessa Boagni and Chevannah Paalvast with seven points apiece while Stella Beck and Penina Davidson both scored six points.
It was a disappointing shooting night for the Ferns who made just four from 21 attempts from beyond the arc and 17 from 70 from the field overall.
The Kiwis led 17-15 approaching halftime, but Chinese guard Yuan Li nailed consecutive threes to give the Asian heavyweight a 21-17 lead at the interval. China stretched that advantage to lead 42-29 at three-quarter time.
Micaela Cocks knocked down her second three of the game early in the final quarter and, when Toni Farnworth connected with a scything lay-up, the Tall Ferns were only 10 adrift at 53-43 with three minutes to play.
However, China then outscored New Zealand 14-1.