Tall Ferns post upset win in Asia Cup opener
The High Women opened their FIBA Women’s Asia Cup campaign with a 66-64 upset win over Korea in Sydney.
Ranked 29th in the world, New Zealand held off 12th-ranked Korea from start to finish and led 20-12 after the first quarter.
Experienced High Ferns Penina Davidson and Charlisse Leger-Walker could barely miss a basket in the first half as New Zealand took a 41-25 lead into the break.
New Zealand’s dominance was aided by a strong defensive back as Korea struggled to get their shots down in the first half.
Korean WNBA center Ji Su Park had 23 shot attempts but was only able to convert eight for 18 points in the game.
Korea fought back in the third quarter, limiting the High Men to 11 points for the quarter, while scoring 21 of their own.
The Highlanders started the final quarter with a six-point lead and Korea tied the score for the first time in the game with just over three minutes remaining.
A tight final few minutes followed as New Zealand prevailed.
Davidson played big minutes and led the Ferna Arda with 24 points and 10 rebounds, Charlisse Leger-Walker scored 20 points, Tera Reed was strong at both ends of the floor with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
For Korea, Leesul Kang was the joint leading scorer with 18 points.
Former Australian age group representative Tahlia Tupaea’s shoulder injury in her debut for the Highlands did not stop her from playing 24 minutes.
New Zealand must finish in the top four of the eight-team competition to move closer to securing a place at next year’s Paris Olympics.
The Tall Ferns’ second match of the tournament will be against world number 2 China on Tuesday night followed by the first meeting with Lebanon on Wednesday.
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