In the first of the women’s semi finals on day seven of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Great Britain took on the USA.
With a place in the final on the line, both teams roared into action: trading shots for the game’s opening four minutes until Great Britain found a way to pull ahead by 14-8. The USA, however, quickly responded and at the end of the first quarter the game was tied on 18 points apiece.
Great Britain opened the second quarter with a three pointer from Amy Conroy, but once again the USA soon responded as they pushed ahead by 30-24. It was then Great Britain’s turn to hit back and, combining sharp shooting and strong defence, they levelled the game on 30 points apiece before taking a two point lead (32-30). The American side, however, pushed forwards once more to hold a 41-36 advantage at half time.
A stunning start to the third by the USA saw the team open with a streak of 12 unanswered points on their way to a 26-13 quarter in their favour; the score with just 10 minutes left on the game therefore seeing the USA ahead by 67-49.
Rallying together, it was Great Britain who won the fourth quarter by 29-22; the USA, however, holding firm to close out an 89-78 victory.
GB Head Coach Miles Thompson said: “We made history when we won that quarter final game and have just played in our first Paralympic semi final game and scored 78 points – it’s historic.”
GB Women’s Co-Captain Sophie Carrigill said: “I’m just really proud of the girls: we put up a fight, we had a really good game – they had to shoot the lights out to be able to beat us and I think that’s credit to the team, the coaches, our defence, and how well we played. We never give up, we fight until the end, and we’ve just proved that.
“I’m excited for the bronze medal game. We’ve reached our goal already by making it to the semi finals, so I’m just excited to get on the floor again and to be able to have another opportunity to be in a medal match – it’s a great feeling.”
USA Head Coach Stephanie Wheeler said: “In the first half, GB came out and played great. We knew that they were going to come out with a lot of fire so, fortunately, offensively we were shooting at a pretty high percentage and I think our girls did a great job of making the right read and getting the ball to the right player at the right time. Defensively, at half time, we had to make a bit of an adjustment as far as putting a lot more pressure on Helen Freeman and putting a lot more pressure on Amy Conroy: I think we let them score a little bit too easy in the first half. So we made that adjustment and we also said that it’s 0-0 and if we want that opportunity to go play for a gold medal then we have to take it. I’m really proud of how the team came out in the second half: they were composed and intense at the same time.
“We’re excited to be in the final but it’s where we knew we had the potential to be – it’s why we came here. We’ve had opportunities to play both Germany and the Dutch over the summer – including the Dutch a few days ago – so we’ll go back and start breaking down film of both teams, we’ll watch the game this afternoon and then we’ll begin to put final touches on our game plan for tomorrow.”
USA’s Desi Miller said: “This was a huge game for GB and – kudos to them – they put out a force to be reckoned with: they were shooting really well, pretty much throughout the whole game. When we were game planning for them, we knew they were going to come out with a lot of emotion, a lot of intensity and we also went through their tendencies with video, through practice, so by the time we went onto court we felt really prepared as a unit, as a team.
“I think I’m going to stay in the moment right now and just be excited that we made it into the final – that’s a huge deal, especially after not having made it in 2012. Whether it’s Germany or the Netherlands, they’re going to bring a good game – I’m excited.”
For full match statistics click here https://www.rio2016.com/en/paralympics/wheelchair-basketball-womens-semifinal-wb-4