29 August, 2015
05 September
15 Hongpin HUANG (China)
Game Report
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Too little, too late for Korea as China move on to Final

WUHAN (2015 FIBA Asia Women's Championship) - Korea rallied in the fourth quarter of their 2015 FIBA Asia Women’s Championship Semi-Final against China, but it was too little too late as the hosts took a 60-45 win.

Consequently, the home side advanced to Saturday's Final where they will face defending champions Japan.

China leaned on a strong start to immediately suppress the Koreans, who managed to score only six points in the first period. Coach Tom Maher's charges didn't take the pressure off the throttle in the next two quarters, building up a commanding 25-point lead heading into the final frame.

Korea were able to put up a semblance of a fight late in the fourth quarter, last threatening after Lee Kyung-Eun's jumper trimmed the deficit to 56-45, with 2:32 to play. China tightened up their defense, however, and didn't let the Koreans score another basket.

This was China's second win over Korea in this tournament, having earlier beating their East Asian rivals, 74-58. Strangely enough, only one player scored in double-digits for China - Huang Hongpin, who dropped 10 points and 8 rebounds.

Korea, meanwhile, got 12 points from Yang Ji-Hee, while Kim Dan-Bi added 11.

China face Japan in Saturday's title game, while Korea take on Chinese Taipei for the last podium spot.

Turning Point: Korea still had a sliver of hope in the final minutes after they cut the lead to just 11 points, but they went 0-of-6 from the field in the final two minutes of play. That drought at the end eventually doomed any chance of pulling the rug from under the hosts.

Stats Don't Lie: Free throws were big in the first Semi-Final, but they were even more important here. It’s rare to see a team take zero free throw attempts in a game, but that's exactly what happened to Korea in this game. They drew only five fouls from the Chinese and were not able to earn a single free throw throughout the duration of the contest. On the other hand, China had a dozen trips to the foul line, and they made good on all but two.

Game Hero: In a game where nobody was flat-out dominant, 1.88m forward Fan Zhang stepped up big time. Fan came off the bench to play 19 minutes and log 4 points (all on free throws), 8 rebounds, 1 steal, and a blocked shot. If she can put up solid numbers again in the Final, China should have a good chance to dethrone Japan.

The Bottom Line: For China, this was clearly a statement game. Korea were in the Final two years ago, and they were certainly hoping to return to that stature this year. Not surprisingly, China would have none of it. Coach Maher's crew seem focused on a singular goal - to retake the Asian diadem from the Japanese. Korea, meanwhile, go back to the drawing board. They will face a hard-fighting Chinese Taipei squad tomorrow, and they need all the toughness they can muster to end the tournament on a high note.