Illini Paralympians place 4th, 5th in 200 meters

The U.S. wheelchair basketball teams will have to settle for bronze medal matches at the 2012 Paralympics.

The men’s and women’s teams failed to advance to the final after losses to Australia. Four Illini competed in track and field events but took home no medals.

The American women started off the day with a one-point loss to Australia. Rose Hollermann of the U.S. missed a short-range shot as the clock expired. Australia managed to advance despite shooting 34 percent compared to the U.S.’s 46 percent. The U.S. team’s loss can be attributed to its 28 turnovers, which led to 12 points for Australia. The U.S. also missed nine free throws in the game, shooting 5-of-14 from the line. Neither Illini representative on the U.S. team scored as Jennifer Chew only played eight minutes and captain Sarah Castle did not play.

Rebecca Murray led the U.S. with 18 points and nine rebounds while playing all 40 minutes. Two Illini contributed for the Australians, with Bridie Kean recording two points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals while Shelley Chaplin finished with four rebounds, three assists and two steals. The Australian effort was balanced, with three players leading the team in scoring with eight points.

Australia’s opponent will be Germany, which squeaked out a 49-46 victory over Netherlands. Edina Mueller of Illinois had four points and three assists to help the Germans. Captain Marina Mohnen led Germany with 20 points, five rebounds and three assists. Inge Huitzing was the lead scorer for the Netherlands with 16 points in the defeat.

The men’s wheelchair semifinal went as expected Thursday with both group winners — Australia and Canada — advancing to the finals.

Australia kicked off the men’s action with a 72-63 victory over the U.S. Grant Mizens and Dylan Alcott of Illinois didn’t score for Australia, but three other players made up for their lack of scoring. Justin Eveson, Shaun Norris and Brad Ness all had more than 15 points, six rebounds and five assists for Australia, while no American came close to matching those numbers. Joseph Chambers led the U.S. in scoring with just 12 points while former Illini Will Waller and Steven Serio scored 10 points each in the loss. The game was closer than the final score indicated, as Australia led the U.S. by three points with over a minute left in the game. Australia would end the game on a 9-2 run.

Canada defeated Great Britain 70-54 in group play, and Thursday’s semifinal wasn’t much different. Canada won this time, 69-52, leaving the court in “Canada” chants despite knocking off the home team.

Former Illini Patrick Anderson once again led the Canadians, scoring 17 points to go along with nine rebounds and 11 assists, nearly recording his third triple-double of the tournament. Anderson is leading the tournament in points, rebounds, assists and steals heading into the finals. Terry Bywater led Great Britain with 12 points. Brandon Wagner and Adam Lancia, both of Illinois, didn’t score in the game in limited action.

Two undefeated teams will face off when Australia plays Canada in the finals Saturday.

On the track, Illinois graduates Jessica Galli and Anjali Forber-Pratt finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the women’s 200-meter dash final of T53 classification, a distinction for athletes with spinal cord injuries. Galli finished just ahead of Pratt with a time of 29.82 seconds but missed out on a bronze medal by .42. China’s Hongzhuan Zhou finished in 29.40 to take home the bronze medal, while teammate Lisha Huang took first with a time of 29.18.

Illinois junior Tatyana McFadden”:, who already has won two “gold medals”: at the 2012 Games, successfully qualified for the final of the women’s T54 1,500 meters on Thursday. McFadden, a junior at Illinois, finished third in her heat with a time of 3:32.14. Illinois graduate Amanda McGrory also qualified for the final, finishing in 3:42.47, good for third place in her heat. McFadden and McGrory, who both have career gold medals, have never earned a medal in the 1,500. The final takes place Friday.

Michael can be reached at [email protected] and @The_MDubb.