Colorado Springs, Colorado – The two power houses of wheelchair basketball renewed its border rivalry Sunday afternoon at the Olympic Training Center’s Sports Center I gym. Team USA came out quickly with the lead on the shoulders of three-time U.S. Paralympic Games hopeful Becca Murray of Germantown, Wisconsin, who scored Team USA’s first 11 of 22 points, and contributed 23 in the U.S. win over Canada, 70-66. Team USA is a perfect 2-0 in the three-day event, and will square off again with Canada on Tuesday at 9 a.m.
The first quarter saw Team USA with a narrow 17-12 lead, with Canada edging closer in the second quarter, 29-27. In the third, Murray jumped the squad out with eight more points for a 10-point advantage to close out the period, 47-37. Murray also led Team USA with seven rebounds.
Canada did not go away and mounted a comeback on the heels of Cindy Ouellet’s eight points down the stretch. Two-time U.S. Paralympic hopeful Rose Hollermann of Elysian, Minnesota, was solid in the waning moments with 12 of her 18 points coming in the last six minutes, and five rebounds. Janet McLachlan was the top scorer for Canada with 21 points. Two-time U.S. Paralympic hopeful Desi Miller of Monroe, Washington, put up double digits to assist in the win with 10 points.
Team USA will play against Brazil at 11 a.m. on Monday, while Canada and China open the second day of competition at 9 a.m.
In 2014, Canada defeated the United States in the semi-finals of the World Championships and went onto win the gold medal, while the United States finished fourth. Last summer at the 2015 Parapan Am Games in Toronto, Team USA returned to the top of podium by edging Canada for the gold medal and qualifying for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
The last game of the first day featured Rio 2016 Paralympic Games host Brazil against Beijing 2008 Paralympics host China. The Chinese jumped out to a 19-8 first quarter lead, and then Brazil mounted a 16-8 run to cut into China’s lead, 27-24. The final two stanzas belonged to China as they ran to the victory, 54-35. China was led by four players in double digits: Haizhen Cheng (12 pts), Yun Long (11 pts.), Lei Tianilao (10 pts.), and Suiling Lin (10 pts.). Brazil’s top point scorer was Lia Soares with 18.
The event located in Sports Center I provides a strong field of international teams, and is open to the public free of charge. Fans are invited to attend the games, and must enter the Olympic Training Center through the Boulder Street entrance.
In the final preparation phases for the Rio Games, the U.S. team will see a variety of teams in the next five weeks. Team USA will have two more international competitions following the Colorado Springs event (Olympic Training Center, Lake Placid, New York, June 22-26 and Women’s World Super Cup, Frankfurt, Germany, July 13-18).
The U.S. women’s team qualified for the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games by winning the 2015 Parapan American Games. The U.S. women dominated the Parapan Am competition by outscoring their opponents by 55 points per game and avenged their 2014 World Championships fourth-place finish by defeating Canada for the gold medal in Toronto, Canada.
The U.S. Women’s Head Coach is Stephanie Wheeler of Champaign, Illinois, who won two Paralympic Games in 2004 and 2008, and will be assisted by NWBA Hall of Famer Trooper Johnson of San Lorenzo, California, and Amy Spangler of Madison, Wisconsin, with Kearstin Gehlhausen of Whitewater, Wisconsin, serving as the team leader.
The U.S. Women’s team finished fourth at the 2012 London Paralympics, after claiming the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing and 2004 Athens Paralympic Games.
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2016 U.S. Women’s International Friendly
Olympic Training Center, Colorado Springs, Colorado
June 5-7, 2016
Game #1 – USA def. China, 73-50
Game #2 – Canada def. Brazil, 58-44
Game #3 – USA def. Canada, 70-66
Game #4 – Brazil vs. China at 7 p.m. MDST
Monday, June 6 (All times MDST)
9 a.m. China vs. Canada
11 a.m. USA vs. Brazil
5 p.m. China vs. USA
7 p.m. Brazil vs. Canada
Tuesday, June 7 (All times MDST)
9 a.m. Canada vs. USA
11 a.m. China vs. Brazil
5 p.m. USA vs. Brazil
7 p.m. China vs. Canada
U.S. Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Roster
No. Name Residence Hometown Birthdate
4 Megan Blunk Urbana, Ill. Gig Harbor, Wash. 09/12/1989
23 Abby Dunkin Arlington, Texas New Braunfels, Texas 11/24/1995
11 Vanessa Erskine Zwickau, Germany Kearney, Mo. 07/12/1994
2 Gail Gaeng Champaign, Ill. Frederick, Md. 12/27/1992
15 Rose Hollermann Arlington, Texas Elysian, Minn. 12/25/1995
5 Darlene Hunter Arlington, Texas Commerce Township, Mich. 04/16/1982
9 Desiree Miller Whitewater, Wis. Monroe, Wash. 08/12/1987
12 Becca Murray Germantown, Wis. Germantown, Wis. 03/15/1990
10 Jennifer Poist Tucson, Ariz. McSherrystown, Pa. 03/14/1989
8 Natalie Schneider Crete, Neb. Crete, Neb. 02/11/1983
24 Christina Schwab Lakewood, Colo. Dane, Wis. 07/31/1980
33 Mackenzie Soldan Tuscaloosa, Ala. Hemlock, Mich. 05/14/1992
Head Coach: Stephanie Wheeler, Champaign, Illinois
Assistant Coach: Trooper Johnson, San Lorenzo, California; Amy Spangler, Madison, Wisconsin
Team Leader: Kearstin Gehlhausen, Whitewater, Wisconsin
Athletic Trainer: Karla Wessels, Lexington, Kentucky