The Tall Ferns were thumped 109-50 by Australia in their Commonwealth Games semi-final at the Gold Coast Convention Centre on Friday night. The Australians demonstrated why they are red-hot favourites to take the gold medal on Saturday with a dominating performance from start to finish. As if a massive height advantage, that gave them a 35-45 rebounding superiority, wasn’t enough Australia shot the three-ball at an exceptional 60% (15 from 25) to make the Tall Ferns task almost impossible
New Zealand’s handy 35% (9 from 26) from beyond the arc paled in comparison as did a turnover count of 21-9. Despite the heavy defeat Tall Ferns Head Coach Guy Molloy believes his team will be ready for the bronze medal game against Canada on Saturday evening, “The girls will play hard and compete against Canada.”
Micaela Cocks echoed Molloy’s sentiments. “Guy has put a really good system in place and we all believe in it. It was difficult tonight against one of the top teams in the world but we are not going to let that affect us going into the game tomorrow. We know what we’ve done in the past few Games and we’ve seen Canada so we know we can win.
Kalani Purcell with a triple and Charlisse Leger-Walker with a jump shot and finger roll lay up kept the Tall Ferns in touch during the opening exchanges but the Opals had a 17-7 lead inside the first five minutes.
Micaela Cocks rattled in a three but Liz Cambage was dominating in the paint for and her 9 points helped Australia to a 25-12 first quarter lead.
Jordan Hunter made the first five New Zealand points in the second stanza but they fell twenty points adrift 37-17 early in the period.
Toni Farnworth made a long three but there were slim pickings at the offensive end as the Tall Ferns fell behind 43-22. Chevannah Paalvast scored a rare transition basket and Hunter capped a fine first half performance (8 points) but at the interval Australia were in the ascendancy 53-28 partly due to a sizzling 8 from 14 (57%) three-point shooting display.
Leger-Walker scored the first points of the second half but a brace of Aussie threes forced Tall Ferns Head Coach Guy to call a timeout as his charges trailed 62-30.
Cocks, well marshaled by the Opals defence, broke the shackles with a left handed lay-up. Molloy had both his teenage guards Zara Jillings and Leger-Walker on the floor together at the back end of the third period but they had little impact as the Australian lead blew out to 83-34 at three-quarter time.
The towering Cambage had a shot blocked by Josie Stockill but it was a rare highlight for the Kiwis, as were a pair of triples from Nat Taylor, as Australia continued their dominance in the closing stages.
Reflecting on the game Molloy said, “There were two games going on tonight. One was the scoreboard contest which was always going to be difficult and the other the internal game. There were some measures we wanted to achieve against a top echelon team. Some we didn’t do too bad like our ball movement and our shooting from the perimeter.
“As I said there was a game within a game but I will go back to the targets – some we came up short on and others we got done with a new style in its infancy and that’s what we will continue to drive a message home with,” he added.
NZ 50 – Cocks 9/3a, Leger-Walker 9, Taylor 9, Hunter 8, Purcell 5/4r, Paalvast 4/5r, Farnworth 3, Stockill 3
Australia 109 – Cambage 21, George 18
In the earlier semi-final England overturned a 26 points loss in pool play to reach the final with a solid 65-53 win against Canada.
The Tall Ferns will now play in the bronze medal game on Saturday, tip-off 8pm (NZT) against Canada.
Broadcast by Television New Zealand https://www.tvnz.co.nz/shows/commonwealth-games/schedule
Tall Ferns Games
• V Malaysia, 5 April, 11.00pm, WON 86-44
• V Jamaica, 7 April, 1.30pm, WON 80-49
• V India, 8 April 7.30pm, WON 90-55
• V Mozambique, 10 April, WON 79-63 (Qualifying Final)
• V Australia, 13 April, LOST 109-50 (Qualifying Final)