July 3, 2009
NORTH SHORE, New Zealand--Relying on a defensive effort that limited France to 55 points and 32.1 percent shooting, the USA Men's Under-19 World Championship Team (2-0) led from start to finish and posted an impressive 71-55 victory over France (1-1) Friday morning. The USA men will conclude preliminary play on July 4 facing Egypt in an 11 a.m. (Auckland, New Zealand local time) game.
The win assured the United States of advancing into the July 6-8 Second Round. A victory versus Egypt Saturday would insure the United States of the Group B No. 1 seed for the second round.
Seth Curry (Duke / Charlotte, N.C.) paced the USA's scoring in the win with 12 points, Gordon Hayward (Butler / Brownsburg, Ind.) added 11 points, Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh / Scotch Plains, N.J.) chipped in 10, and Terrico White (Mississippi / Memphis, Tenn.) was credited with nine points.
"It was a pretty decisive win, but I thought we could have played better. They're good, they're athletic, we couldn't dominate them inside and we knew that going into it so that was a little different for us. We needed to shoot the ball well and we didn't. But I think our defense was pretty good and that was really the margin of victory," said USA head mentor Jamie Dixon.
The USA sprinted from the opening tip, forcing France into three quick turnovers while scoring the game's first nine points, five of those coming from Gibbs.
"We knew they were a tough team so we wanted to make a statement quick, make a statement early, bring our intensity and I think that's what we did," said Gibbs.
France countered with six straight points to make the score 9-6 with 5:42 still to play in the first, but Curry made good on his first two 3-point tries of the contest to lift the U.S. to a 19-8 lead.
"I had a little bit of rhythm," Curry said, "some guys penetrated and kicked it out to me and I was able to knock them down. But after I hit my first two threes they went box and one and that just opens it up for my teammates to get open shots and that's when we pushed it up."
Taking a 19-10 lead into the second quarter, France guard Andrew Albicy hit two threes to reduce the American lead to 21-16. A basket by DeAngelo Casto (Washington State / Spokane, Wash.), followed by five points from White, upped the U.S. lead to 28-16 with 5:32 left before half.
The U.S. outscored France 7-4 over the second quarter's final 5:05 and exited to its locker room at halftime enjoying a 35-20 lead.
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