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Samoa nips Cook Islands; Fiji routs New Caledonia
Apia (Samoa) -- Malama Leaupepe registered historic numbers as home team Samoa held on to a narrow 71-67 win over the gritty Cook Island side to keep its slate unblemished in Day 3 of the 2019 Pacific Games women’s basketball.
The Samoans led by as many as 17 points and even managed to control it to a still comfortable 7-point lead, 68-61, in the last 38 seconds.
But the Cook Islands refused to go down without a fight, launching a quick 7-1 run capped by Jazmine Davis’ triple to cut the deficit to just two, still seven seconds to go.
But fortunately for the host team, time was on their side as Malama Leaupepe calmly sank two charities to ice the win.
That pair of free throws capped off a career outing for Lauepepe as she finished with a tournament-highs so far of 43 points and 23 rebounds on top of two assists and a steal to lead the way for Samoa.
Leaupepe’s 23 rebounds contributed to Samoa’s dominating 85-64 advantage in the rebounding department which also proved to be a tournament-high so far, for the heating up Pacific Games.
With Sommer Motufuoa and Aufui Sau also adding seven and six markers, respectively, Samoa improved to 2-0 to join Fiji on top of Group A after previously drubbing New Caledonia, 106-64.
On the other hand, Ajiah Pepe and Terai Sadler pumped in 21 and 16 markers, respectively, for the Cook Islands which suffered its second straight close defeat coming also a slim 69-71 loss to Fiji.
Meanwhile, reigning champion Fiji defeated New Caledonia, 82-40, for its second straight win in Day 3 of the 2019 Pacific Games women's basketball.
Riding on an inspiring 71-69 win over the Cook Islands in the opener, the Fijians raced to a quick 38-21 halftime lead to dictate favor in what proved to be a one-sided affair.
Fiji thus improved to 2-0 for a Solo no. 1 spot in Group A.
Behind a 55-percent field goal clip, Fiji pressed on the pedal in the third frame, limiting New Caledonia to just three points on its way to a massive 42-point win.
The suffocating Fiji defense forced New Caledonia to 38 errors which it converted to 38 turnover points.
The Fijians also had big advantages in rebounds (40-28), steals (28-14) and steals (25-8) as well as points inside the paint (46-18) and bench points (32-17).
Val Nainima led from the front with 17 points, two rebounds, nine assists, and four steals.
Backstopping him was Letava Whippy with 12markers, 12 boards, and four steals together with ace Mili Koyamainavure with, 10 points, three rebounds, three assists, and three steals.
Yolanda Luepak was the lone bright spot for New Caledonia with 10 markers and five boards.
No other player registered double digits for New Caledonia which suffered its second defeat.