Much-improved shooting key

Micaela Cocks. Photo: Getty Images
Micaela Cocks. Photo: Getty Images
The Tall Ferns beat Chinese Taipei 71-56 late on Saturday night in their playoff for fifth and sixth at the 2019 Fiba Asia Cup in Bangalore.

When the two teams met at the previous Asia Cup in 2017, Chinese Taipei won 65-45 to claim fifth place, but the Tall Ferns prevailed this time on a night when their three-point shooting was much improved.

The Tall Ferns scored nine from 23 at 39% from beyond the arc, by far their best perimeter shooting in their five games in India.

There were several standout performances by the Kiwis who were paced by a game-high 18 points from Micaela Cocks (4/5 3PG), while Natalie Taylor added a dozen (5/8FG).

Playing 32 minutes, Kalani Purcell was at her stats-stuffing best, amassing nine points, 11 rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block. Stella Beck had another busy night with seven points and eight assists while Ashleigh Karaitiana was equally as industrious with seven points, seven rebounds and five assists.

Tall Ferns coach Guy Molloy was pleased with the performance of his team.

"We finally got our shooting going making 47% (29/62) from the field and 39% from the three-point line which was a nice change. Natalie and Micaela got hot from the three-point line. All 12 players got into the game and it was nice to see Ella Fotu return to the team and she did very well in her 11 minutes, making a couple of shots.''

Molloy was also happy with the effort at the other end of the court.

"I was very pleased with our defensive effort tonight, we really locked it down well and we significantly out-rebounded them 41-33 on the back of a great rebounding performance from Kalani Purcell, who had 11.

"We are pretty buoyed by the result. Fifth is a better finish than the previous Asia Cup so hopefully we are moving in the right direction,'' added Molloy.

Purcell opened the scoring in the contest, before Ella Fotu scored immediately after coming off the bench. The Harbour Breeze guard made her first appearance of the tournament after being sidelined due to illness.

Karaitiana made an inside basket immediately prior to the quarter-time buzzer to put the Tall Ferns 15-14 ahead.

Cocks knocked down New Zealand's first three of the game and Beck made an And-1 play but when Taipei made its fifth three of the contest New Zealand was 27-23 adrift.

A timeout from Molloy had the desired effect, as his team unleashed a 13-0 run to finish the first half 36-27 ahead.

Purcell made her customary steal and finish interspersed with threes from Tessa Boagni and Taylor (twice).

Cocks owned the third quarter, scoring 13 of her team's 22 points as the side maintained their advantage to lead 58-43 with ten minutes to play.

The Tall Ferns navigated their way through the fourth quarter to record a comfortable win, their second victory at the Asia Cup tournament.


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