The Whai have come away with their first win of the 2022 season, defeating the Mainland Pouākai 74-66 in Tauranga on Tuesday evening.
The Whai looked energised in front of a vocal crowd, playing with assertiveness and outworking the Pouākai on the glass early in the game. They outscored Mainland 23-13 in the first quarter behind imports Nikki Greene and Kyra Lambert.
Road teams have started slow in Round 1 and the Pouākai continued that trend over the first 10 minutes, but they started to show more decisiveness on offence in the second quarter and were able to create better opportunities for their key scorers in Erin Whalen and Trinity Baptiste. They claimed the second quarter 16-14 and were trailing by eight at the half.
The Whai had Mainland beat for size in the frontcourt and the home side did a good job overall of keeping the Pouākai out of the paint, so the best pathway to victory for Mainland would be through playing with pace and pushing the ball up the floor.
Whai opened the third quarter on a 10-4 run and put the Pouākai on their heels. A timeout by head coach Tully Bevilaqua was perfectly timed, as it thrust Mainland into a run of their own to end the quarter on a 17-9 run and closing the gap to six points heading into the fourth.
American import Trinity Baptiste had worked her way up to 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting through three quarters of work. Her mid-range game is noteworthy, with multiple off balance jumpers on display throughout the game from Baptiste. She would total a game-high 29 points on 10-of-13 shooting.
Baptiste would do her best to keep the Pouākai in the game down the stretch, but the lead the Whai had built earlier in the contest was enough of a cushion to see them home on the evening. American Dominique McBryde stuffed the stat sheet for the Whai, finishing with 12 points, 9 rebounds and a whopping six steals with three blocks.
The Pouākai (42%) shot a better clip than the Whai (39%) from the field, but it was their 15 turnovers that made it difficult to really make a run at the win.
Both teams will end Round 1 with a 1-1 record, each picking up a win at home to kick start their 2022 campaign's. Whai's import trio, paired with an impressive crop of local talent makes them a team to keep an eye on this season.
Missing key pieces in Mary Goulding (3x3 Tall Ferns) and Tessa Morrison (personal), the Pouākai were not at full strength in this one and will be without Ella Fotu, too, as she joins Goulding at the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup. They've got enough talent between their three American imports and the likes of Tall Fern Tessa Boagni to be a threat regardless of their absences.
SCORE: Whai 74, Pouākai 66
Whai: McBryde 12 PTS, 9 REB, 6 STL, 3 BLK | Lambert 20 PTS, 6 AST | Greene 12 PTS, 13 REB | Robati 15 PTS
Pouākai: Baptiste 29 PTS, 8 REB, 10-13 FG
Full box score HERE.
Stuff MVP Votes
Kyra Lambert (Whai) - 10 votes
Sharne Robati (Whai) - 7 votes
Dominique McBryde (Whai) - 6 votes
Trinity Baptiste (Pouākai) - 5 votes
Nikki Greene (Whai) - 1 vote
Lauryn Hippolite (Pouākai) - 1 vote
Whai - July 8 @ Southern Hoiho
Pouākai - July 9 vs. Kāhu
Round 2 Tauihi Schedule