Basketball: Disappointing college finishes for Tall Ferns

By Mike Lacey

Kalani Purcell playing for the Tall Ferns. Photo / Getty Images
Kalani Purcell playing for the Tall Ferns. Photo / Getty Images

The 2016 American college play-off fortunes of Tall Ferns Kalani Purcell, Stella Beck and Josie Stockill have come to disappointing conclusions.

Having dominated West Coast Conference proceedings all season Brigham Young University-Provo slipped at the final hurdle losing an exciting championship final 70-68 against University of San Francisco in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

BYU Cougars, the defending champions, had advanced to the final on the back of a 16-2 conference regular season record and two convincing play-off victories. The final was close throughout - BYU led 68-66 inside the final 60 seconds but coughed up fouls that sent San Francisco to the foul line, the free throw opportunities gleefully accepted by the number 6 seeds.

As she had been all season Tall Fern Kalani Purcell was a pillar of strength for the Cougars putting together a double double of 17 points and 16 rebounds in the final.
Her outstanding form earned Purcell a place in the WCC All-Tournament team.

Some consolation for BYU is that they are still likely to be invited to the NCAA tournament, often referred to as the 'Big Dance', when selections and seedings are announced next week.

The previous day St Mary's Gaels were defeated 67-65 by San Francisco in the WCC semi-final. The result meant the season ended on a low note for Gaels and Tall Ferns swingman Stella Beck as they were tipped to meet BYU in the final. Beck had 7 points, 3 rebounds and a steal as the Gaels were overhauled in the final stanza after leading 41-37 at three quarter time.

The Gaels finish the season with an impressive 24-7 record but one win away from the championship game.

In other play-off news on Monday former Hawkes Bay standout and Colgate University senior Josie Stockill finished her outstanding four-year Raiders career on a losing note.

After winning their opening game of the Patriot League play-offs the Raiders were defeated in the quarter finals by number one seed Army 89-62.

It was somewhat fitting that Stockill played her last game of college basketball at one of the most famous and prestigious sites in America - the United States Military Academy known as West Point - home of the Army team.

Stockill finished as Colgate's all time leading shot blocker, 5th in rebounding and 15th in scoring.

Men's college play-off action featuring Tai Webster (Nebraska) and Jack Salt (Virginia) begins later this week.

- NZ Herald

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