July 8, 2009
AUCKLAND, New Zealand--Facing a Lithuanian (3-3) team that was fighting for its medal round life, the USA Men's Under-19 National Team (6-0) battled for 40 minutes, used a 13-point performance by Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas / Jersey City, N.J.) and took advantage of some critical defensive stops in the closing minutes to register a 76-69 win in FIBA Under-19 World Championship play Wednesday night in Auckland, New Zealand.
After a day off on Thursday for all remaining teams, the United States, 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 Friday, 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.
Pitt's Ashton Gibbs started his second consecutive game and contributed eight points in a team-high 25 minutes played.
With Lithuania entering the game with the knowledge 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. began to produce offensively and after posting an 11-3 scoring run, the USA led 18-14.
Leading 18-16 to start 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 36-36 all.
Lithuania, which scored 28 of its first half points in the paint, 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 and led 46-41. 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 that put the Americans back up 49-46. Lithuania regained the lead 50-49 and the USA five 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 and blocked a shot at the other end as the U.S. moved out to a 65-56 lead with 6:26 to be played.
Lithuania 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 that ultimately put the U.S. ahead for good, 69-67.
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.
The desperate Lithuanians cut the gap to 73-69, but from 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 added nine points in the win, while 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 them into 23 turnovers while only turning the ball over eight times themselves.
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