The Northern Kāhu remain undefeated with an 83-75 win over the Mainland Pouākai in Christchurch on Saturday evening.
The Pouākai jumped out to a 10-0 run to open the game, playing some stingy defence and producing steady offence on the other end. The Kāhu would settle down and stop the bleeding, going on a 10-6 run to close the quarter. Mainland had a 16-10 lead after 10 minutes of action, but looked a step behind once Trinity Baptiste went to the bench and was one reason why Northern clawed back into the contest.
The Pouākai shot 8-of-13 from the floor in the first quarter but turned the ball over five times, something that has bitten them on numerous occasions in 2022. The Kāhu shot a rough 3-of-18, but will have been encouraged only trailing by six despite their struggles on offence.
The lead grew to as much as 14 at one point in the second quarter for the Pouākai, as they improved their ball security and let their hot shooting do the talking. Mainland shot a blistering 16-of-27 from the field and 3-of-8 from three in the first half, helping them to a 38-29 advantage at halftime.
American import Erin Whalen had eight points for the Pouākai on 3-of-5 shooting, with a pair of 3-pointers coming in the quarter as she engaged in a physical battle with Tahlia Tupaea of the Kāhu. MVP candidate Tupaea had a couple of triples herself in the first half, but shot just 2-of-9 from the field.
The Kāhu were doing a great job taking care of the ball with just two turnovers through 20 minutes of play, but it was their 27% shooting clip and 3-of-12 effort from downtown that was making a comeback difficult.
Northern went on a 21-8 run in the third quarter to lead by as much as five points, but the Pouākai responded with a 12-8 run to tie the game heading into the fourth. Mainland were letting Northern get whatever they wanted with ball in hand and they had cooled off themselves shooting the ball at the other end.
American Trinity Baptiste turned it up a notch over the final few minutes of the quarter and worked her way up to 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Australian Tahlia Tupaea was the star of the quarter, though, as she dropped 11 points in the third to give her 17 points with one quarter to play.
The Kāhu put forth a strong effort in the fourth quarter led by Tupaea to see themselves home for their seventh straight win to begin the season. They shot just 38% from the field and 8-of-27 on their 3-point attempts, but they found a way to grind out another victory against a talented Mainland squad.
Northern played solid defence in the second half, outscoring the Pouākai 54-37, but it was their aggressiveness and ability to create contact down low and get themselves to the line that was the biggest difference. The Kāhu shot 19-of-23 from the free throw line in the game.
Tupaea was the star of the show for the Kāhu with 27 points. Baptiste did what she could to match her on the other side with 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting, but the Pouākai weren't able to string together enough buckets in the fourth to keep up with the streaking Kāhu.
SCORE: Pouākai 75, Kāhu 83
Pouākai: Baptiste 20 PTS, 8-13 FG | Goulding 15 PTS, 9 REB | Whalen 11 PTS | Boagni 9 PTS, 10 REB, 3 BLK
Kāhu: Tupaea 27 PTS | Grays 16 PTS | Cocks 13 PTS, 5 REB, 6 AST
Full box score HERE.
Stuff MVP Votes
Tahlia Tupaea (Kāhu) - 10 votes
Marte Grays (Kāhu) - 6 votes
Krystal Leger-Walker (Kāhu) - 4 votes
Trinity Baptiste (Pouākai) - 4 votes
Tessa Boagni (Pouākai) - 4 votes
Micaela Cocks (Kāhu) - 2 votes
Mary Goulding (Pouākai) - 1 vote
Pouākai– July 30 vs. Tokomanawa Queens
Kāhu – July 26 vs. Souther Hoiho
Round 4 Tauihi Schedule