*Photo courtesy of Mark Reis and graphic courtesy of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee
LIMA, PERU – The USA Women’s National Wheelchair Basketball Team qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games and advance to the finals of the Lima 2019 ParaPan American Games with a dominant performance over Argentina. Lindsey Zurbrugg (Portland, OR) lead all scorers with 16 points.
Becca Murray (Germantown, WI) and Lindsay Zurbrugg opened the game with high proficiency from the outside. The two sharp shooters alternated baskets during the first period for a combined 14 points in the first quarter. “I’m pretty happy with both our performance and my performance. The team really played together today. We swung the ball well, we were very unselfish, we talked together – it was just a great team day,” said Zurbrugg.
The balanced scoring attack from the outside would lead to textbook pick and roll action for the Americans. Argentina had no choice but to jump the shooters on the wings, which would lead to uncontested lay-ups as the Argentine help defense rotated late. With a minute left in the first quarter, Rose Hollermann (Elysian, MN) would pass the ball over the outstretched hand of an Argentina defender, which dropped perfectly into the shooting pocket of a rolling Kaitlyn Eaton (Houston, TX) who scored the basket off the glass.
Hollermann would assist on four of the field goals in the first quarter, as the USA cruised to a 22 to 5 lead to start the game. Hollermann would go on to register a game high of 15 assists. Unfortunately for Argentina, their missed shots would lead to a significant number of fast break opportunities for the Americans. Abby Dunkin (New Braunfels, TX), who played the bulk of the second quarter, would snatch the rebound off of a miss and initiate successive fast breaks for Team USA. Dunkin would complete the game with a double-double, with ten rebounds and ten assists.
Much of USA’s offense was generated by high intensity defense. Though Head Coach Trooper Johnson (San Lorenzo, CA) would intermittently apply a full-court press, he had his team applying significant pressure in the half court. The result, seemingly time and time again, was the Argentine players pushed outside of their range, and consistently shooting contested shots with the shot clock counting down.
When they ended up in the half court, it would be the two-man game that would be a back breaker. Forced to jump Hollermann, who is the second leading scorer in the tournament to date, this would leave Courtney Ryan open. It was in the last minute of play that Ryan rolled free to the basket for two lay-ups, extending the USA lead to 30.
Team USA’s goal was to qualify for Tokyo 2020, but they also have another goal in mind. “Our main goal this year was to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. Tonight, we did that, and we also plan to fight to defend our 2015 ParaPan American Gold Medal,” said Johnson.
Team USA will play Canada in the final, who by virtue of making the final, have also qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. According to Johnson, the game is expected to be exciting to watch and the athletes are expecting a tough game.
“I know it’s going to be a tough, physical game. We’ve been preparing for it and if we run our offense, are unselfish and follow our fundamentals, we should be good. It’ll be a great match,” said Zurbrugg.
The women’s gold medal game will tip off at 6:45 pm central and can be viewed at TeamUSA.org