USA Men's World University Games Team Comes From Behind To Take Canada 85-81 In Exhibition Contest
June 27, 2009 - Belgrade, Serbia
|Deon Thompson added 10 points to the USA's win. (USA Basketball)|
Da'Sean Butler (West Virginia / Newark, N.J.) scored a team-high 20 points to lead the 2009 USA Men's World University Games Team (1-0) to a come-from-behind victory over Canada (0-1) 85-81 in the 2009 Serbia International Invitational on Saturday night in Belgrade. The U.S., which trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half and utilized a 28-14 fourth-quarter surge to clinch the win, was aided in the victory by Corey Fisher (Villanova / Bronx, N.Y.) with 11 points, while Lazar Hayward (Marquette / Buffalo, N.Y.) and Deon Thompson (North Carolina / Torrance, Calif.) tossed in 10 points apiece.
In the night's earlier contest, Serbia (1-0) defeated Russia (0-1) 103-101 in overtime.
-We were anxious with the ball early, thinking we could get some quick scores without making sure that we had our angles properly set up for our post feeds, making sure the skip passes were where they needed to be," said USA and University of Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan. -We did not do a good job of ball-faking and making Canada react to us. In the second half it was a whole different ball game. Defense was the difference in the fourth quarter, no question. We got them to take some tough shots and took them out of their comfort zone. But again, they are not as big as what we are going to face down the road."
Staring down a 10-point, 67-57 hole with one quarter to go, Fisher fed Thompson for two points to kick-start the USA's comeback. The eventual 12-0 run ended with a Thompson steal, resulting in an Evan Turner (Ohio State / Chicago, Ill.) 3-pointer at 7:30 that gave the U.S. its first lead of the game, 69-67.
-(The fourth quarter) was a change in attitude, demeanor, everything," said Butler. -Evan really knocked down a big 3-pointer that put us up by two points. To have him make that shot lifted everybody's spirits, and everybody was just excited to get back on defense and get the ball back."
Canada took a time-out following Turner's three, and from there the game see-sawed with four tied scores and three lead changes. At 2:43 Canada's David Collins made a 3-point play that knotted the score at 76-all. Forty seconds later Thompson hit one-of-two from the line to give the United States the lead for good, 77-76. The USA then went up 82-78, but Canada's Chris Dyck hit his squad's ninth and final three of the game to pull back to one, 82-81, at 1:05. That was Canada's final points as Fisher scored one from the line and Quincy Pondexter (Washington / Fresno, Calif.) finished off the game with a dunk with nine seconds to go.
Canada opened with a 3-pointer 20 seconds into the game and after a flurry of threes, owned a 28-19 lead at the end of the first quarter. In the opening stanza Canada hit a sizzling 75.0 percent of its long balls, netting 6-of-8 from deep, while limiting the USA to just 1-of-5 from 3-point and 6-of-16 from the field overall during that span.
The red, white and blue had a tough time getting into a rhythm, and four minutes into the second quarter trailed by 16 points, 37-21. By forcing Canada into a pair of turnovers and three misses, the USA was able to close the gap to 37-29 on a Hayward-assisted Thompson bucket at 3:38, and cut the deficit to 43-36 at the halftime buzzer.
-I don't think we ever panicked," said Thompson. -I think that was just first game jitters. It was the first time we had actually seen new faces, been a different country; we flew all day on Thursday. It was our first game together, and I think in the first half, we just had to get those first game jitters out."
The USA, which shot 44.8 percent (30-67 FGs) overall and 30.4 percent (7-23 3pt FGs) from 3-point during the game, hit 56.3 percent (9-16 FGs) of its attempts from the field, including an even 50.0 percent from beyond the arc (3-6 3pt FGs), in the fourth quarter. Additionally, the USA only turned the ball over twice in the final stanza and was credited for four steals. In contrast, Canada coughed up the ball seven times in the fourth quarter and made just 29.4 percent (5-17 FGs) of its field goals in the final period.
Dyck paced Canada with a game-high 21 points, including 4-of-6 from 3-point.
The U.S. continues the pre-World University Games tournament against Serbia on June 28 (3:00 p.m. EDT), following the Canada " Russia contest (12:30 p.m. EDT). The round-robin Serbia International Invitational concludes on June 29 with the USA taking on Russia (12:30 p.m. EDT) and Serbia against Canada (3:00 p.m. EDT).
-(Serbia's) going to be a tough game," Butler said . It's a dog fight, and you have to play hard. We watched them play. They play aggressive, they play hard and they play smart at times as well. We are looking at a very well coached team and a very aggressive team. We just have to come out and match that intensity and not give up any easy baskets.'
The United States is set to open World University Games play on July 3 against Finland (2:00 p.m. EDT) and faces South Korea on July 4 (2:00 p.m.). Second round action is scheduled for July 6-7, quarterfinals will be played July 9 and medal semifinals are slated for July 10. The gold medal will be contested on July 11 (3:00 p.m. EDT).
The World University Games is organized by the International University Sports Federation and held every other year. The 2009 men's basketball competition will feature 26 teams vying for gold July 2-11. Eligible athletes for the USA team must be currently enrolled in a college or university and have remaining NCAA athletic eligibility.
The United States has claimed a medal in every World University Games men's basketball competition since beginning play in 1965 and has captured a record 13 gold medals, three silver medals and two bronze medals in the 18 WUGs in which a USA Basketball squad has competed. Entering the 2009 competition the USA owns an amazing 125-7 record in World University Games play.