USA U19 Squad Fights Off Lithuania 76-69 For Sixth Win
-- USA To Face Canada Friday In Medal Round Quarterfinals --
July 8, 2009 - Auckland, New Zealand
|Guard Tyshawn Taylor finished with 13 points including two critical scores in the game's final minutes. (FIBA Photo)|
Facing a Lithuanian (3-3) team that was fighting for its medal round life, the USA Men's U19 Team (6-0) battled for 40 minutes and behind 13 points by Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas / Jersey City, N.J.) and some critical defensive stops in the closing minutes, the Americas earned a
76-69 win in FIBA U19 World Championship play Wednesday night in Auckland, New Zealand.
After a day off Thursday for all remaining teams, the USA, carrying a six game win streak, advances to the medal round quarterfinals as the Group E No. 1 seed and will face Group F No. 4 seed Canada (3-3) on July 10 at 8:30 p.m. (all times are Auckland local time which is 16 hours ahead of EDT). Canada advanced to the medal round quarterfinals only after earning a surprise 67-57 win over Argentina Wednesday afternoon. Other medal round quarterfinal matchups include Greece (4-2) versus Argentina (3-3) at 1:30 p.m.; France (3-3) goes against Group F No. 1 seed and undefeated Australia (6-0) at 4:00 p.m., and Puerto Rico (4-2) takes on Croatia (5-1) at 6:15 p.m. In the consolation quarterfinals, Lithuania (3-3) will play Kazakhstan (1-5) and Egypt (1-5) will go against Spain (3-3) at 11:15 a.m.
|Gordon Hayward led he USA's rebounding effort with eight boards. (FIBA Photo).|
'I'd probably prefer a game not so close," admitted USA head coach Jamie Dixon. -But down the stretch we got it done and that was nice to see.
-John Shurna, Tyshawn (Taylor) and Darius (Miller) all made some big plays and that's what you need. We've said all along that it was going to be different players making key contributions on different nights."
With Lithuania knowing heading into the game that they had to win in order to move on to the medal round quarterfinals, they started quickly as shots for the U.S. didn't fall.
With the USA making just one of their first six shots, Lithuania jumped ahead 13-7.
But behind five points from Shelvin Mack (Butler / Lexington, Ky.) the U.S. got things rolling offensively and after posting an 11-3 scoring run, the USA led 18-14.
Taking an 18-16 lead into the second stanza, the U.S., following a dunk from Gordon Hayward (Butler / Brownsburg, Ind.), went up 26-20. However, behind six consecutive points from Donatas Motiejunas Lithuania quickly cut the advantage down and the two sides traded baskets and at halftime the game was knotted at 36 all.
Lithuania scored 28 of its first half points in the paint and strengthened their first half effort with strong rebounding that saw the Europeans grab 10 offensive rebounds and outrebounded the U.S. 26-14.
Lithuania outscored the U.S. 10-5 over the first five minutes of the third to take a 46-41 lead. But Terrico White (Georgia / Lithonia, Ga.) nailed a much needed three, and John Shurna (Northwestern / Glen Ellyn, Ill.) then added a 3-pointer and a turn-around jumper to put the Americans back up 49-46. Lithuania regained the lead 50-49 and the USA closed out the third stanza with six straight points from three different players to carry a 55-50 advantage into the fourth quarter.
Darius Miller (Kentucky / Lexington, Ky.) provided the U.S. with a much need spark early in the fourth quarter. With the USA clinging to a 59-56 lead and 9:18 left, Miller pumped in six straight points while making a momentum shifting steal and blocking a shot as the U.S. moved out to a 65-56 lead with 6:26 to be played.
-They didn't play a lot of guys so I think they got tired so when I came in and just tried to play with a lot of energy and it just worked out for us. My teammates did a good job of getting me the ball when I was open," said Miller. -I think we played with a lot more intensity in the second half, we came out ready to play and ready to go. They we're playing with a lot of intensity and we had to match it in the second half to come out with the win."
Lithuania still refused to fold and over the next 3:20 outgunned the U.S. 11-2 to tie the game 67-67 with 3:06 left in the game.
Klay Thompson (Washington State / Ladera Ranch, Calif.) came up with a loose ball in a scramble and scored to break the tie and put the U.S. ahead for good 69-67 with 2:45 on the clock.
Next it was Taylor's turn to take charge. The Kansas guard hit a jumper just inside the 3-point line and on the following possession scored on a hook off a drive that put the USA up 73-67 with 1:40 remaining.
-I just wanted to be aggressive, whether it had to be scoring or looking to attack and hit one of my teammates for a layup. I just wanted to be aggressive. I had open shots so I took them and they just fell for me today. They weren't falling the last couple of games so I'm glad they fell today," said Taylor about his contributions in the closing minutes.
The desperate Lithuanians cut the lead to 73-69, but from the there the USA made the stops and secured the rebounds to walk away with the win.
Taylor added four assists to his team high 13 points, Thompson finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and three steals, while Miller also recorded 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting, and added three rebounds and three steals. Shurna contributed nine points in the win, and Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh / Scotch Plains, N.J.) finished with eight points. Hayward grabbed a USA high eight rebounds and scored five points.
The USA shot just 42.9 percent from the field and 31.8 percent from three, while Lithuania hit 47.5 percent of its shots. Lithuania also outrebounded the USA 45-31, however, the quicker USA team forced their opponents into 23 turnovers while only turning the ball over eight times themselves.
It was also announced that Washington State forward DeAngelo Casto (Spokane, Wash.) has a torn meniscus of his right knee and would not play the remainder of the tournament.
Dixon is being assisted on the USA sidelines by collegiate head coaches Chris Lowery of Southern Illinois University and Matt Painter of Purdue University.