July 11, 2009

USA Advances To Gold Medal Game At U19 World Championship

Box Score

Watch The U19 Championship Game Live!

Butler’s Shelvin Mack hit a key jump shot down the stretch and Gordon Hayward added four free throws in the closing minute to help lead the USA to an 81-77 victory over Croatia in the semifinals of the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship in Auckland, New Zealand.  The victory propelled the unbeaten U.S. squad into the Gold Medal game against Greece.

The USA had to pull out a come-from-behind win in the fourth quarter for the first time in the tournament.  Croatia, trailing by double-digits, rallied with a big third quarter run to take a 59-57 lead heading into the final period.

Hayward scored a field goal with just over three minutes remaining to break a 70-70 tie and then Mack hit a pull-up jumper with 2:33 left to give the U.S. a four-point edge, 74-70.  The U.S. then held off Croatia’s comeback attempt by hitting six of six free throws in the final minute, including four by Hayward.

The USA eased out to a 22-16 lead in the first quarter and stretched the margin to 46-33 at halftime.  But Croatia rallied behind Mario Delas and out-scored the U.S., 26-11, in the third period.

Hayward led the U.S. with 15 points and eight rebounds.  Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh) added 11 points, while Seth Curry (Duke) and Terrico White (Mississippi) each had 10.  Mack shared the team lead in assists with three, and he added two points and four rebounds.

Delas led Croatia with 17 points.

The U.S. will face Greece for the second time in the tournament.  The two teams met in the first game of the second round, and the U.S. came away with an 85-69 victory.  The Gold Medal game, slated for Sunday, July 12, at 7:30 p.m. (3:30 a.m. in Indianapolis), will be streamed live on www.fibatv.com.