LUBLIN, POLAND—The United States Women’s Deaf Basketball Team team captures Bronze after narrowly missing a shot at the gold in an overtime loss in the semifinals. Despite falling to Lithuania in the semifinals in an overtime thriller, the American Women’s team, led by Head Coach Deb Ayres, bounced back with a 76-72 victory against Turkey in the Bronze Medal game at the GLOBUS Sports Hall.
United States started the game strong, running ahead to a 37-25 lead after the first half. In pool play, Turkey had relied on a strong second half performance to come back and beat the Americans 65-61; this time, the Americans were prepared for Turkey’s second-half onslaught, and hung on to a 4-point margin at the final buzzer.
The Americans were led by forward Hannah Neild’s 30 points and 14 rebounds and center Nukeitra Hayes’ 20 points and 11 rebounds, while forward Cassidy Perry added 12 points to go along with 14 rebounds.
After the game, Neild said, "We knew in order to be up on that podium we needed to play USA basketball for the full 40 minutes we were on the court. We talked about leaving our hearts out on the floor because we only had 40 minutes to show everyone, including ourselves, what USA basketball was all about and what this team was capable of doing."
Although the Americans went 3-1 in Pool B and handily dispatched Ukraine 83-50 in the quarterfinals, the Lithuanian squad appeared to peak at the right moments, needing until the final seconds to defeat the Americans. Ayres remarked, “A one-point loss in overtime with a chance to win by one wasn’t too far from an opportunity to compete for gold. After a disappointing loss, it can be a challenge to get up and be ready to fight for Bronze, especially against a quick Turkey team, but we did it.”
In the gold medal match, Greece defeated Lithuania, 51-42, to win the World Championship. Despite going 1-3 in pool play, including a loss 76-50 to United States, the Greek team seemed to find their rhythm in the elimination rounds, pulling off three consecutive wins, won three straight games in the medal round en route to its first World Championship.
USA’s Neild and Hayes were named to the Best Five all-tournament team. Neild also won the tournament’s top scorer award.
After the tournament, Ayres expressed a sense of optimism: “It is encouraging to see that other countries have improved. This bodes well for the women’s game. The world bar has been raised. USA will rise again to the next challenge.”
USA 76, Greece 50
Turkey 65, USA 61
USA 64, Lithuania 47
USA 84, Belarus 38
USA 83, Ukraine 50
Lithuania 75, USA 74 (OT)
Bronze Medal Game
USA 76, Turkey 72