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BEIJING - New Zealand suffered their first defeat of the Olympic women's basketball tournament, beaten 62-85 by a more polished Spain here today.

Coming off an opening day 76-72 win over African champions Mali, the Tall Ferns backed themselves to upset the world's fifth-ranked side but trailed throughout at the Olympic Basketball Gymnasium.

American-turned-Kiwi Jillian Harmon was New Zealand's class act, scoring a game-high 22 points to help keep them in touch, while Saturday's star Kate McMeeken-Ruscoe also hit double figures with 10.

The Ferns were dwarfed by Spain who had six players over 1.85m-tall to their opponents' two, Harmon and centre Jessica McCormack.

New Zealand trailed 7-18 at quartertime and 27-40 at the main break as their poor shooting continued from the win over Mali.

Both sides put up 28 shots in the first half but the Ferns' success rate was just 32 per cent to Spain's 50 per cent.

Spain got out to a 15-point lead early in the second half but a big third quarter from Harmon kept the margin to about 10 points before it blew out in the dying minutes.

New Zealand now need to win at least one of their three remaining matches against higher-ranked sides China, Czech Republic and the United States to book a quarterfinal spot and match their performance from Athens four years ago.