The U.S. women’s wheelchair basketball team defeated Argentina, 82-24, Thursday night in the semifinal of the Parapan American Games Lima 2019. The victory not only meant Team USA will play for gold Saturday night but also that it will compete at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, thanks to a guaranteed top-two finish.
“It feels amazing. That was our main goal, coming in here, was to get our qualification for Tokyo,” said Becca Murray (Germantown, Wisconsin), who contributed 14 points to the win. “We knew that Argentina was going to come out here and not just let us have it, so we had to come out strong. We always talk about team chemistry, rotating the ball and getting everyone involved, so we knew we had to play our game.”
The Americans have gone undefeated in their first four games in Peru, starting with a 92-10 walloping of Chile and 100-16 victory over the host nation before a closer 57-42 defeat of Brazil. They will hope to continue that when they face Canada, the winner of Thursday's other semifinal, who they also defeated for gold at the Parapan American Games Toronto 2015.
“I know it’s going to be a tough physical game, which we’ve been preparing for," said Lindsey Zurbrugg (Portland, Oregon), who led the team in points against Argentina with 16. "If we run our stuff, are unselfish and follow our fundamentals, it’ll be a good match.”
The U.S. is the three-time defending champion at the Parapan American Games, while Canada took the title at the first two Games in 1999 and 2003.
With a spot in Tokyo secured, the Americans will spend the next year focusing on defending the gold medal they earned in Rio in 2016.
“I’m so excited," Zurbrugg said. "I’ve never been to the Paralympics. I’m really pumped we were able to qualify tonight.”
Six Paralympic champions from that 2016 team were on the squad in Lima, including Megan Blunk, Abby Dunkin, Rose Hollermann, Darlene Hunter, Becca Murray and Natalie Schneider.
The U.S. men’s wheelchair basketball team plays its semifinal against Argentina Friday and a top-three finish in the tournament would ensure the men's ticket to Tokyo.