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Tall Ferns edge to extra-time win

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 27/05/2016

The Tall Ferns have kick-started the European leg of their build-up towards next month's Olympic qualifying tournament with a 70-64 overtime win against Latvia in Riga.

The New Zealanders led 28-24 at half-time, and despite moving out to a 37-26 lead were pegged back and trailed 41-42 at the three-quarter mark.

A tight final period saw the scores locked at 56-56 before the 22nd-ranked Kiwis bossed the additional five minutes 14-8 to wrap up the win.

Power forward Jillian Harmon, who had only joined the team 48 hours earlier, produced a game-high 22 points to spearhead the Kiwi effort.

Harmon is coming off an outstanding season in the Italian League where she averaged 19 points a game for regular season champions Le Mura Lucca, and her performance delighted coach Kennedy Kereama.

"For Jill to score 22 in her first game back adds some much needed scoring punch for us," he said.

"It's also worth mentioning how big Micaela Cocks (19 points) was down the stretch, nailing some big perimeter shots for us."

Penina Davidson amassed 14 points and 10 rebounds, and guard Toni Edmondson also chipped in with 10 points, her fifth consecutive double-digit contribution of the tour.

The Tall Ferns edged the rebounding contest 45-40 and despite shooting only 36 per cent with 24/66 from the field, still managed to record a significant win against the world No.17 Latvians.

New Zealand play Latvia again on Sunday (NZT), then travel to Belarus for a four-nation tournament against the hosts, Japan and Turkey in Minsk.

Friendly matches are also scheduled against Spain before the Tall Ferns tackle the Rio Olympics qualifying tournament in Nantes, France, beginning on June 13.

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