Germany avenges loss in gold medal game of 2008 Paralympic Games

By Lindsay Wyskowski | Aug. 31, 2012, 11:51 a.m. (ET)

LONDON – The U.S. Paralympic Women's Wheelchair Basketball Team dropped its second game of the preliminary rounds to Germany Friday at the Olympic Park Basketball Arena. The final score of the closely contested game was 54-48.

The U.S. often faces Germany in important contests, including the gold medal game of the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games and the 2010 World Championships, where the U.S. team qualified for London, but usually comes out on top. The game was tied at 23-23 at the half, and there was a lengthy stretch early in the second half where neither team scored. Ultimately Germany was more successful in hitting their shots in the final minute of the game, leaving them victorious.

“I thought that the U.S. started out a little flat,” Alana Nichols said of her team’s performance. “We didn’t come out with as much aggression as we’ve done in the past. It took us a little bit of catching up to get us where we needed to be to begin with, but I feel like we just ran out of time.”

After winning their opening game on Thursday, the team was in agreement that there are things they need to work on as the Paralympic tournament continues. Coach David Kiley says he’ll be looking at video to see where they can improve for the games ahead. “We were rushed and out of position to begin with,” he said after the game. “All we want to do is play well and win. We'll be that much more ready next time.”

Team USA’s next contest is Saturday against Mexico, their third game in the preliminary pool play rounds.

“I’m hoping to see us improve with each and every game we play,” said Natalie Schneider, who scored 12 points and had 8 rebounds in Friday’s game. “If we can do that, we’re going to be ready for the tournament and we’ll keep on building off of that and get where we want to be.”

With plenty of ball still to play, the women on the wheelchair basketball team is embracing the spirit of the Paralympic Games. Nichols was on the team in 2008 and knows it’s the opportunity of a lifetime to represent Team USA on the world’s biggest stage.

“It’s equally if not more exciting, because you’re in that moment,” she said. “I have super special memories of Beijing, but London is amazing right now. It’s an incredible experience for anyone to have.”