July 8, 2009

USA Advances To FIBA U19 World Championship Quarterfinals

Box Score

The USA survived its toughest test of the tournament and advanced to the medal round of the FIBA U19 World Championship with a hard-fought 76-69 second round victory over Lithuania.  The victory lifted the USA to 6-0 in the tournament.

Lithuania (3-3) battled the unbeaten U.S. squad right to the wire.  The game was tied at 67-67 with 3:06 remaining, before Klay Thompson (Washington State) came up with a loose ball and scored to put the U.S. in front for good.  Four straight points by Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas) stretched the margin to six and the U.S. held on with several key defensive stops down the stretch.

Taylor wound up leading the U.S. in scoring with 13 points, while Thompson and Darius Miller (Kentucky) each added 10 points.

After winning five straight games by double-digit margins, the U.S. team found itself in a 40-minute struggle with a tall and talented Lithuania squad.  The U.S. had a two-point advantage, 18-16, after one quarter and the game was tied at halftime, 36-36.  The five-point, 56-51, lead the U.S. enjoyed after three quarters was erased in the first seven minutes of the final period.

Lithuania, needing a win to advance to medal round play, jumped to a 13-7 advantage in the game, before Butler’s Shelvin Mack sparked a U.S. rally.  Mack scored all five of his points in the game during an early run that put the U.S. in front, 18-14.

Mack’s Butler teammate, Gordon Hayward, gave the U.S. it’s biggest early lead, 26-20, with a dunk in the second quarter, but Lithuania fought back to knot the score at halftime.

Hayward finished with five points, a team-high eight rebounds, three steals and one assist.  Heading into medal round play, he leads the U.S. squad in rebounding (6.0) and shares the team lead in steals (10).  He’s second on the squad in blocked shots (9) and fourth on the team in scoring (9.2).

Mack, the team captain, is tied for third on the team in steals (7), and he’s fourth on the squad in assists (14).  The 6-3 guard in averaging 6.8 points and 2.7 rebounds per contest.

The U.S., the No.1 seed from Group E, will face Canada (3-3), the No. 4 seed from Group F, in the quarterfinals on Friday, July 10, at 8:30 p.m. (4:30 a.m. in Indianapolis).  The game will be streamed and available live on www.fibatv.com.  Australia (6-0) finished as the No. 1 seed in Group F.