After loss to Brazil, America hasn't won Pan Am Games since 1983

Team USA misses gold in hoops

Posted: Wednesday, August 06, 2003

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic Once again, there will be no Pan American Games gold medal for the United States in men's basketball.

Brazil won Tuesday night's semifinal, pulling away in the fourth quarter for a 92-80 victory over the American collegians. The United States has not won the Pan Ams since 1983 when the team included Michael Jordan, Chris Mullin and Wayman Tisdale. Brazil outscored the Americans 28-17 in the final period, including a 13-0 run in which Marcelo scored seven points.

The U.S. team of collegians led by as many as 11 points in third quarter, but Brazil answered with a 20-8 spurt to take its first lead. The lead went back and forth before Brazil put the game away.

''We did everything we wanted to do, we just didn't finish plays at the end,'' coach Tom Izzo of Michigan State said.

Emeka Okafor of Connecticut led the Americans with 18 points. Chuck Hayes of Kentucky had 15 points and 13 rebounds.

The Americans will play Puerto Rico, who beat them in the first round, for the bronze medal. The host Dominicans beat the Puerto Ricans 79-65 in the other semifinal and will play Brazil on Wednesday night.

The defeat came hours after a long American winning streak ended, moments after a much longer losing streak was snapped.

In an early start to the busiest day of the games, the U.S. baseball team returned to Quisqueya Stadium just 10 hours after beating the hosts before a sellout crowd. With far fewer spectators this time perhaps 200 as opposed to 20,000 they were four-hit by Nicaragua's Olman Rostran and lost 3-0, breaking a 25-game string of victories this summer.

''We wanted to go undefeated,'' designated hitter Stephen Head said, ''but it just wasn't there for us today.''

Stunningly, victory was there for the U.S. men's foil squad, which scored the first team win in 32 years over the Cubans at the Pan Ams. The fencers trailed 40-30 entering the last match, which Dan Kellner of Warren, N.J., won 15-4, setting off a celebration long in the making.

''To make a ... comeback, I'm not sure if Ive ever seen it, let alone done it,'' he said. ''Theres nothing like winning a team event. Im just so psyched I could step up and help the team.''

Also celebrating were Cuba's Eric Lopez and Chellsie Memmel of Plano, Texas, in gymnastics.

Lopez won all four events he entered Tuesday, giving him six gold medals in these games and 18 for his career. Lopez previously won the all-around title and the team gold, and added wins in pommel horse, rings, vault and parallel bars.

Despite his incredible success at the Pan Ams, Lopez has yet to win an Olympic medal.

''I want to close my career with an Olympic medal of any color,'' Lopez said. ''Then I can retire at the top.''

Memmel, 15, of West Allis, Wis., didn't quite match Lopez, but she became the only American with three golds when she won the uneven bars. Memmel also won the all-around and the team event.

''I definitely did better than I expected,'' she said. ''It was just an amazing meet.''

Teammate Nastia Liukin, 13, of Plano, Texas, won the balance beam, with Memmel getting bronze. Tia Orlando of Macungie, Pa., the last performer, won the floor exercise.

Through four days, the United States leads with 22 gold medals and 47 overall. Cuba has 18 gold and 32 overall.

Shannon Pluhowsky of Phoenix rolled a 246 to capture the gold medal in women's singles bowling. She previously won a silver in doubles.

''It means a lot, because this is as close as we'll ever get to the Olympics,'' Pluhowsky said. ''This is the top.''

In women's freestyle wrestling, the U.S. team made it 4-for-4. The gold medalists were three wrestlers from Colorado Springs Patricia Miranda at 105 1/2 pounds, Tina George at 121, and Sara McMann at 138 3/4 and Toccara Montgomery of Cleveland won at 158 1/2.

''Our girls are really honed,'' coach Tricia Saunders said. ''I am not surprised we did this.''

Hardly surprising was Lisa Fernandez's one-hitter with eight strikeouts as the U.S. women blanked Cuba 9-0 in softball. The Americans, who scored five runs in the first inning, have won every Pan Ams and Olympics since softball has been played.

America's shooting team collected two more gold medals, by Daryl Szarenski of Saginaw, Mich., in men's 50-meter pistol, and 1996 Olympic champion Kim Rhode of El Monte, Ark., in women's double trap.

In women's basketball, the improving U.S. collegians beat Argentina 93-78 to advance to the medals round. Rebekkah Brunson of Georgetown and Loree Moore of Tennessee each had 12 points for the United States (3-1).

''We are a lot more comfortable as a team now,'' coach Debbie Ryan said. ''Everyone seems more in rhythm. We've gotten better defensively each game.''

The world champion U.S. women beat Brazil 9-4 in water polo, but the win didn't impress their coach.

''This was absolutely the worst game we've played all year,'' Guy Baker said. ''Our approach was poor, our execution was poor, our concentration was poor. If we keep playing this way, we're sure to pick up bad habits. Then you're just rolling the dice with your finish.''

Two more U.S. gold medals came in track and field.

Reese Hoffa of Athens, Ga., set a games record with a shot put of 68 feet, 3-4 inches. Then Aretha Hill won the women's discus at 207-8.

Defending champion Dawn Ellerbe of Columbia, S.C., finished fifth in the hammer throw at 215-8. Gold medalist Yipsi Moreno of Cuba broke Ellerbe's games record with a personal best 243-7, third in the world this year.

Lacking the emotion that carried them to a 2-0 baseball victory over the Dominican Republic and its 13 former major leaguers, the Americans had no offense against Nicaragua. That's not been unusual here: Nicaragua's Cairo Murillo no-hit Guatemala on Monday.

''We are disappointed,'' manager Ray Tanner of South Carolina said, ''but I am proud of our guys' streak and the way they've approached the game.''

Cuba's vaunted team won't go undefeated either after Mexico beat it 7-1 Tuesday night.

Carly Gullickson, who became the youngest American to play tennis in the Pan Ams when she won Monday, beat Alana Broderick of Jamaica 6-4, 3-6, 6-0 in her second match. The 16-year-old from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., led a perfect day by the six Americans entered.

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