Fourth-Quarter Rally Lifts Eagles

WASA, Charlotte To Meet in NWBA Women's Division Title Game

WASA, Charlotte To Meet in NWBA Women’s Division Title Game

Paralympians Natalie Schneider and Becca Murray and the rest of the WASA Marquette Eagles’ shooting finally came around.

After trailing for three quarters to the No. 4 seed LWSRA Lady Hawks and down nine early in the fourth period Saturday afternoon, the Eagles found their offensive touch late in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) Women’s Division Championship semifinals.

No. 1 seed WASA went on a fourth-quarter scoring blitz and then held on for a thrilling 56-53 victory at Turnstone Center for Adults & Children With Disabilities in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Charlotte’s Abby Dunkin, with ball, drives against Arizona’s Courtney Ryan, red, in a National Wheelchair Basketball Association Women’s Division Tournament semifinal game. (Photo by John Groth).


WASA will meet the No. 2 seed Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets in Sunday’s championship game. Charlotte defeated the No. 3 seed Arizona Storm, 56-48, in Saturday’s second late-afternoon semifinal.

The defending Women’s Division tournament champion, WASA had all it could handle from LWSRA’s young group, which included U.S. Paralympic assistant coach and three-time Paralympian Desiree Miller, 2024 and two-time U.S. Paralympian Kaitlyn Eaton, 2024 U.S. Paralympian Emily Oberst and 13-year-old rising star Zaelyn Marshall, along with others.

Trailing 46-37 to start the fourth quarter, WASA went on an 11-0 run to take a 48-46 lead on a Schneider basket with 4 minutes and 34 seconds left. It was its first lead since the first period.

Then, the Eagles turned to their dynamic duo and 2024 Paralympic women’s wheelchair basketball team members — and they delivered.

Schneider (a five-time U.S. Paralympian) and Murray (a four-time U.S. Paralympian) combined to score the team’s last eight points.

They included Schneider’s one-handed shot from the right side as the shot clock was about to expire that rimmed in and gave the Eagles to a 50-48 lead with 1:48 remaining. Then, on the team’s next possession, she added another basket from the left side to give them a 52-48 lead with 58 seconds left.

“I just knew someone had to get a shot off as soon as possible. And I was the one that happened to have the ball. And so I took my best shot,” Schneider says of her last-second shot. “We have a really good team, like a good group of shooters on our team. So, we just needed to start finding the bottom of the net. And then we we did a much better job of that in the second half.”

But LWSRA wasn’t out of it just yet.

After a timeout, Marshall answered with a hoop for LWSRA to cut the deficit to 52-50 with 50.7 seconds remaining. A Murray-made hoop pushed the lead up to 54-50 with 31.1 seconds left. After the teams traded free throws, LWSRA cut the lead to two, 55-53, on an Oberst inside basket with 12 seconds to go.

But Schneider hit one-of-two free throws with 8.3 seconds left, and Miller’s 3-pointer at the buzzer fell well short.

“Some of our shooters got a little cold. And when they got cold, those Paralympians just capitalized on that situation,” says LWSRA coach Keith Wallace. “Once they went up, it was kind of tough to get that back. And they hit some key shots to keep them in the game.”

Meanwhile, Charlotte and Arizona took turns making short runs, but Charlotte moved ahead 30-23 at halftime thanks to 2024 and two-time Paralympian Lindsey Zurbrugg’s basket with just 3 seconds before the second-quarter buzzer.

WASA Marquette Eagles player Natalie Schneider shoots against the LWSRA Lady Hawks in a National Wheelchair Basketball Association Women’s Division Tournament semifinal game. (Photo by John Groth).


The Rollin’ Hornets pushed their advantage up to nine at the end of three periods, and Arizona trimmed the deficit to five points twice in the fourth. But that’s as close as the Storm came.

Abby Dunkin, a 2016 U.S. Paralympian, scored five points in the fourth quarter for Charlotte. A 2024 and two-time Paralympian, Courtney Ryan scored six points for Arizona in the fourth.

Dunkin thought Charlotte just had to weather the storm.

“We got to ride the highs, ride the lows and put together this team chemistry that we have. And we have some really strong strength on both ends of the floor. As long as we stay composed, I knew we had it,” Dunkin says. “I think just sitting in the groove. I mean, Arizona is a really strong team. You’ve got Courtney and [2024 and two-time Paralympian] Josie [Aslakson] and even [two-time Paralympian] Jenn Poist, too, and Adrina [Castro] that are strong on both ends of the floor. And they’ve got speed and definitely are a lot faster than me, that’s for sure. But just like I said, just staying composed, I think, really benefited us in the long run.”

National Wheelchair Basketball Association
Women’s Division Wheelchair Basketball National Championship

No. 1 WASA Marquette Eagles, No. 4 LWSRA Lady Hawks

No. 2 Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets 56, No. 3 Arizona Storm 48


No. 9 Angel City Sports 45, No. 7 Mary Free Bed 16

No. 8 Memorial Rehabilitation Sharks 43, No. 10 Cincinnati Lady Dragons 37

No. 10 Cincinnati Lady Dragons 40, No. 14 Adaptive Sports Ohio 23

No. 9 Angel City Sports 37, No. 4 Lakeshore Lightning 32

No. 6 Dallas Lady Mavericks 68, No. 9 Memorial Rehabilitation Sharks 25

No. 7 Mary Free Bed 34, No. 13 ParaSport Spokane 17

No. 10 Cincinnati Lady Dragons 43, No. 12 Ability360 Mercury 14

No. 7 Mary Free Bed 33, No. 11 PNW Reign 26

Military Division Wheelchair Basketball National Championship

No. 2B ParaSport Spokane 64, No. 3A Team PVA 57

No. 2A Wolfpack Vets 61, No. 3B LWSRA Hawks 19


No. 1A Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets 58, No. 2B ParaSport Spokane 49

No. 2A Wolfpack Vets 46, No. 1B Florida Renegades 43 (Overtime)


No. 3A Team PVA 45, No. 3B LWSRA Hawks 33

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