After two impressive victories in the opening rounds of the Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC), the Canterbury Wildcats met their match in the Auckland Dream, with Tall Fern Kalani Purcell leading the Aucklanders to a 70-61 victory at Cowles Stadium.
The home side held a 34-33 lead at the split, but a third quarter slide proved costly, with the Dream taking full advantage of an ankle complaint to the Wildcats star recruit Marita Davydova, speeding up the transition and adding 26 points compared to the Wildcats’ 10.
Davydova was kept scoreless during the 3rd quarter but did finish with her 3rd double-double of the weekend with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Tessa Morrison scored 13 points, Terai Sadler 9 and Laken Wairau 7.
‘We had a couple of lapses in that third quarter which cost us,’ said Morrison. ‘We had a couple of foul troubles as well, which meant a few changes to the make-up of the team on court and perhaps we didn’t adjust quickly enough, especially when Kalani took it to us. We allowed them easy options to bring the ball out of their own court,’ she went on to say.
Helen Matthews continues to grow with more time on court, while the return of Tall Fern Tess Boagni in the coming weeks will also be advantageous to the Wildcats chance in games like the one against the Dream. ‘We are a couple of players short still with the likes of Tessa (Boagni) and Shea Crotty out with injuries, so it was really pleasing to see how good we can be against some of the best teams in the league. Even without those girls, it bodes well for later in the season,’ said Morrison.
Matthews grabbed the chance to impress on Friday night against the Thunder, as the Wildcats crushed Taranaki 91-24. Matthews teaming up with fellow NZ age group rep Rosalia Samia to lead the Wildcats scoring 19 and 13 points respectively. Matthews controlled the floor, while Davydova clocked up her 1st double-double of the weekend in just 17 minutes of court time.
The Russian proving her value again in game two against a Tall Ferns stacked Harbour Breeze, scoring 24 points and pulling in 14 boards on the way to a 69-62 victory. Aijah Pepe stood out with 17 points while Matthews added 9. Laken Wairau was just one rebound away from her own double-double with 10 and 9. ‘We are pretty happy with the Harbour game, they’re a tough team and that was our first really hard game, and we came out on top. I thought we did a good job,’ Morrison emphasised.
The North Canterbury Spirit went one better in the WBC Division two with three wins from three starts. Although their third game of the weekend was possibly their best game, pushed hard by the Harbour Zephyr, before edging the Harbour girls 78-75 with Esra McGoldrick returning home from college to bank 25 points.
McGoldrick played a leading hand in their other two matches scoring 17 of their 73 points when they toppled Northland 73-40 and 30 of the Spirts 71 points when they knocked over Rotorua Lady Geysers 71-64. Maia Waitling and Amy West both adding 10 points each as well.
South Canterbury find themselves at the other end of the table, having lost to Northland 50-61, Harbour Zephyr 46-71 and Rotorua 55-71.