No longer belles of the ball

By Lindsay Wyskowski | Sept. 06, 2012, 11:57 a.m. (ET)

LONDON – The U.S. women were stunned in the semifinal of wheelchair basketball on Thursday afternoon, losing to Australia, 40-39. The United States won the last two Paralympic Games, in Athens and Beijing,

The team will play for the bronze medal Friday.

Team USA kept pace with Australia at the start, and at the half the score was tied at 26. The second half proved to be a bit of a challenge, and the Australian defense held the Americans to only four points in the third quarter. Even with 34 total rebounds and a nine-point rally in the fourth quarter, the U.S. could not fire the shots to overtake Australia in the final minutes of the game.

“I thought we had another miracle comeback,” said coach David Kiley. “Our 16 year old (Rose Hollerman) had that last shot and it hung there on the rim for a second.”

The outcome of today’s game was a disappointment for the U.S., who had hoped to defend their 2004 and 2008 Paralympic gold medals.

“I think we played a little more rushed than I think we needed to,” said Alana Nichols. “I personally had some mistakes I wish I could take back.”

The U.S. still has a shot at a medal in the bronze medal game, set to take place Friday at 7 p.m. local time, and they will approach it just like any other game.

“We’re going to do the same things we’ve done all along,” said Nichols. “We’re going to play our game and we’ll just do a little better execution.”

At the end of their game, the U.S. knew they would face either Germany or Netherlands, depending on the outcome of the second semifinal.

"It will be tough whoever we meet in the bronze medal game,” said team captain Sarah Castle. “It will be hard to pick ourselves back up after today, but we have a great set of women and coaching staff. We're looking forward to it."