USA Holds Off China For 82-66 Win
July 2, 2011 • Liepaja, Latvia
Four USA players scored in double digits and the USA (3-0) closed out preliminary play at the FIBA U19 World Championship in Latvia with an 82-66 win over China (0-3).
The USA earned the No. 1 seed for Group D and now advances to second round play that will be held July 4-6 in Riga Latvia. Advancing into second round Group F are the top three finishing teams from preliminary round groups C and D. Joining the USA will be Group D teams Serbia (2-1) and Egypt (1-2), while Lithuania (2-1), Croatia (2-1) and Serbia (2-1) move on from Group C. Second round Group E will be comprised of Australia (2-1), Argentina (2-1), Brazil (2-1), Latvia (2-1), Poland (2-1) and Russia (2-1). FIBA will issue the specific second round game schedule later this evening.
Jeremy Lamb (Connecticut/ Norcross, Ga.) paced the USA’s balanced scoring with 17 points, and added four steals and two assists. Doug McDermott (Creighton/Ames, Iowa) tossed in 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting, and tied for a team high in rebounds with eight, while Tim Hardaway, Jr. (Michigan/Miami, Fla.) and Khyle Marshall (Butler/Davie, Fla.) each tallied 13 points. Marshall also pulled in eight rebounds, as did Tony Mitchell (North Texas/Dallas, Texas).
“I was very satisfied with my performance today,” said Marshall, a sophomore to be at national runner-up Butler. “During the tournament Coach noticed that my demeanor wasn’t really up to par, how it was suppose to be. We sat down and talked yesterday and he told me ‘just let the come to you and just be patient and do the things in the tournament I’ve seen you do.’ Today I listened to his words and I tried to contribute and help my team win.”
“I thought China fought very hard today,” said USA and George Mason University head coach Paul Hewitt. “We played pretty well in the first half but they continued to battle and got themselves right back into the game and made it a three point game going into the fourth quarter and they tested us. These types of games, these types of situations, are only going to help us get better. We’ve been together since the 19th of June practicing and each of these games has helped us make steps forward and we’re going to continue to play better.”
The USA lead 14-13 when Marshall grabbed an offensive rebound, was fouled, and made two free throws to give the USA a lead it would never relinquish. Following a Marshall score off another offensive rebound that gave the red, white and blue a 16-13 lead, Hardaway closed out the final 2:44 of the opening quarter by draining three consecutive 3-pointers to push the USA advantage to 25-13 after the first period.
Holding on to an 11-point lead, 35-24, the U.S. outscored China 9-4 in the final 3:29 to take a 44-28 lead to the locker room at intermission. During the run, Lamb dropped two free throws, McDermott tossed in two baskets and Jackson finished off the half’s scoring with a traditional three-point play off a drive.
China outscored the U.S. 9-2 to open the third stanza and with 7:22 left in the quarter the American lead had shrunk to 46-37.
James Bell (Villanova/Orlando, Fla.) and Joe Jackson (Memphis/Memphis, Tenn.) recorded back-to-back baskets to increase the U.S. advantage to 50-27, but China stormed right back and reeled off eight straight points and the USA saw its double digit lead reduced to five points, 52-47.
China scored the final four points in the third quarter and with 10 minutes remaining the USA held a slim three-point lead, 56-53.
Hardaway, Jr. got the fourth quarter off to a positive start with a steal and a layup, but China scored on the other end to again make it a three point game.
The U.S. defense stiffened and the Americans assembled a 10-0 run to take command 68-55 with 5:25 to play. During the game clinching spree, McDermott started things of by draining a three, then Keith Appling (Michigan State/Detroit, Mich.) hit a short jumper. Appling next got into the lane and completed a three-point play after being fouled and making the charity try, and Lamb made a steal and sailed in for a layup to close out the run.
The U.S. was unable to put China away, however, Lamb got his shot going and finished off the contest by scoring eight of the Americans’ final 14 points as the USA finished strong to take the 82-66 decision.
The USA produced a solid defensive effort, limiting China to 38.5 percent (25-65 FGs) shooting from the floor overall, and just 1-of-15 from 3point. China came into the game averaging 10 makes and 33 attempts from beyond the 3-point line.
“Our defensive effort was pretty good. We felt like they’re a team that relies on three and can stay in the game with the three. So I felt we accomplished that goal,” said Hewitt.
“We chased them off the 3-point line. After the game where they took 47 threes, to allow them to make just one is great defense against a good shooting team,” added Bell.
Sixteen nations are battling for the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship for Men gold medal. The U.S. will enjoy a day of Sunday and travel to Riga, Latvia, where the U19 World Championship second round will be held. Second round play takes place July 4-6.
The top three teams from each preliminary group qualified for the second round, while the fourth place teams advance to the classification round to determine 13th to 16th places. The quarterfinals will be held on July 8, semifinals are slated for July 9 and the gold and bronze medal games, as well as the 5th/6th place and 7th/8th place games will be contested on July 10. Heading into the second round , USA mentor Hewitt knows there’s more work to be done.
“I think we’ve got to be more consistent offensively and stay away from those stretches where we’re soft with the basketball and we just become a jump shot shooting team with hands in our face. When we attack the basket and execute our screening action we’re going to get drives into the paint which will make the defense have to figure out how they’re going to play us – are they gonna take away the drive which should open up threes, and if they try and take away the threes we should be able to attack the basket and attack the rim,” Hewitt stated.
Assisting Hewitt on the U.S. sidelines are collegiate head coaches Randy Bennett of St. Mary’s College and Cliff Warren of Jacksonville University.