U.S. Women Come Up Short in Pan American Games Gold Medal Clash, Fall 79-73 to Brazil
Looking for its first Pan American Games women’s basketball gold medal since 2007, the U.S. (4-1) came up short offensively on Saturday night and fell 79-73 to Brazil (5-0) in the 2019 Pan American Games gold medal game at Coliseo Eduardo Dibos in Lima, Peru.
The U.S. women are now 82-16 all-time in Pan American Games basketball competitions, and have captured seven gold medals, six silvers and two bronze medals.
Puerto Rico (3-2) won bronze with a 66-55 victory over Colombia (2-3).
“It’s tough,” said USA head coach Suzy Merchant (Michigan State). “You have to give Brazil credit. Their guard play – they were better than our guards tonight, especially Taina Da Paixao. And, we turned it over early, uncharacteristically. So, you’d like to take maybe four or five of those back and have a shot at it again.”
After falling behind 16-8 midway through the opening quarter, the U.S., behind a pesky defense and an offense that found its shooting eye, reeled off 11 straight points to take a 19-16 lead with 1:40 left in the first quarter, and the USA led 22-20 at the end of the period.
The second quarter was a back-and-forth battle as neither team could build more than a two-point lead. Brazil guard Taina Da Paixao, who finished with a game-high 24 points, made one of two free throws to account for the final points of quarter, and Brazil took a 39-38 lead to the locker room at halftime.
The U.S. held a 42-41 lead with 7:57 to play in the third period, but Brazil posted eight straight points to take control 49-42, and the Americans spent the remainder of the quarter playing catch up.
Down 55-53 starting the fourth quarter, the U.S. tied the score 57-all after Chennedy Carter (Texas A&M/Mansfield, Texas) was fouled on a 3-pointer and made two of the three free throws.
Brazil took control once again with a 10-4 scoring run that saw Brazil's lead reach double-digits for the first time, 72-62 with 1:28 to play. Brazil converted on seven of its final eight free throws to put the game away and capture the 79-73 victory.
“They came out with the first punch,” said Tyasha Harris (South Carolina/Noblesville, Ind.). “They capitalized on that, and we fought back. It was an up and down game, but they came out on top.
“Unfortunately, we have to go home with the silver,” Harris added. “But, it was a great feeling to come together for these last two weeks. We have been playing hard and practicing hard. We’ve been trying to adjust to the coaching staff, and it was fun while it lasted.”
Carter and Beatrice Mompremier (Miami/Miami, Fla.) each finished the championship game with 16 points to lead the U.S. scoring, and Mompremier added a game-best 12 rebounds. Harris contributed 14 points and five assists, Kathleen Doyle (Iowa/Lagrange Park, Ill.) chipped in nine points and Bella Alarie (Princeton/Bethesda, Md.) was credited with five points and eight rebounds.
“We played a tough game, and Brazil was a good team,” Mompremier said. “We played to the best of our abilities, and we finished with silver.
“I’m proud of how far we came, but I would have rather had gold, and I’m pretty sure everybody else would have rather had gold, but this is what we came out with.”
Brazil's gold medal victory was powered by an offense that shot 51.8% from the field in the final game, while the U.S. shot an icy 33.8% from the field. The Americans owned a 39-31 rebounding advantage, which aided the USA to 15-9 advantage in second chance scoring.
The USA’s assistant coaches were Felisha Legette-Jack (Buffalo) and Vic Schaefer (Mississippi State).