WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The United States preserved its unbroken string of medals in Pan American Games women's basketball and avenged an earlier loss by beating Brazil 85-59 for the bronze medal Saturday night.
The U.S. team pounded the ball inside consistently in the first half when center Amy Jo Herrig scored 16 of her 18 points. Refusing to collapse in the second half as they did in a preliminary round game won by Brazil 77-72, they set a quick pace to start the second half.
Brazil collapsed on Herrig in the middle, leaving guards Michelle Marciniak and Edwina Brown open for short jumpers and drives to the basket. Brown led the team with 19 points, 13 in the second half. Marciniak added 15 and Lynne Pride, 14.
"We changed our defensive stance today to take away the middle penetration and it worked," said coach Nell Fortner. "The first half they didn't have hardly anything getting to the middle. We guarded the one play that killed us the first time we played. Then we shot the ball better."
The American team improved as the tournament went on, losing only to Brazil and Cuba in the preliminary round before losing to Cuba in the semifinals. Cuba beat Canada 72-63 for the gold medal.
"We played consistently better," said Fortner. "It's nice to finish on this note and take home the bronze medal."
American women have won a medal in every Pan American Games that included softball, with six gold medals, three silver and now two bronzes.
"I told them about it before the game," said Fortner. "I said you know if we don't win, we're the only USA team that goes home without a medal in the Pan Am Games. I think that served as extra motivation and they came out and played hard."