USA Men's World University Games Team Goes Down To The Wire Against Russia, Claims 67-63 Victory
June 29, 2009 - Belgrade, Serbia
|Taylor Battle scored five points, dished out two assists and was credited for a pair of steals in a battle to the end against Russia.|
Corey Fisher (Villanova / Bronx, N.Y.) scored 15 points and Deon Thompson (North Carolina / Torrance, Calif.) added 12 to go with nine boards as the 2009 USA Men's World University Games Team (2-1) earned a 67-63 hard-fought defensive battle over Russia (1-2) in the 2009 Serbia International Invitational on Monday night in Belgrade.
In addition to Fisher and Thompson, Da'Sean Butler (West Virginia / Newark, N.J.) and Robbie Hummel (Purdue / Valparaiso, Ind.) added eight points each and Jarvis Varnado (Mississippi State / Brownsville, Tenn.) posted seven points and six rebounds, while Evan Turner (Ohio State / Chicago, Ill.) grabbed eight boards.
-The guys got it done tonight with hustle opportunities," said USA and University of Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan. -(Evan) Turner, (Robbie) Hummel and Deon (Thompson), those guys, especially at the end, they were everywhere. Corey (Fisher) and Talor Battle. I just really like the way they stuck their noses in there."
-Our team defense got better," said Fisher, who also had three steals. -We came out with a lot of energy. That is one thing we talked about in the locker room before the game " to come out with toughness and play for each other."
With the game even at 50-apiece heading into the fourth quarter, Russia's defense held the USA to one field goal in the first 7:30 of the final stanza and went up 61-56 at 4:24 on a Alexy Zhukanenko put-back. That bucket would be Russia's final field goal of the contest as the USA's defense turned the tables and held Russia scoreless from the field to close out the game.
Following a Turner free throw at 2:39, Fisher banked in a jumper at 2:30 to net the USA's first field goal since Thompson hit a turn-around jumper at 9:32 and close to 61-60.
The Americans disrupted Russia on the other end as a pass went out of bounds. The U.S. pushed the ball up the court and Battle threaded a pass inside to Thomson, who gave his side a 62-61 edge with 1:55 to play. Neither team was able to score on their next possession, and with a little more than minute to play Russia hit a pair of free throws to retake the lead, 63-62.
In the final minute of action, Battle drove to the hoop, but his shot was off the mark. The USA had three players under the basket and tried twice to put the ball in the hole before Thompson was fouled on an attempted tip-in with 39 seconds remaining. He missed both tries from the line. However, Hummel crashed the boards, grabbed the rebound and put the ball in the hoop for the final lead change of the game.
-Deon made a good move to the basket, and he got fouled," said Hummel. He was at the line shooting two, and he missed the first one. So I was thinking maybe he would try to compensate with the second one. It came off the rim, and my guy didn't really box me out, so I just did the best I could, and I was fortunate that it went in."
-When I saw him tip it in, I was so happy," said Thompson. -That's why you have teammates. Teammates help you out when you mess up. Robbie definitely gave me a lift when he tipped that ball in."
On the other end Dramir Zibirov's shot was off the mark, but the U.S. touched the ball last and Russia had another chance with 5.7 seconds to play. The USA's foes called a time-out to draw up a game-winning play. However, the Americans wouldn't allow the Russians to inbound the ball and got the ball back. Zibirov was called for an intentional foul while the U.S. was trying to get the ball into play, sending Talor to the line. He hit his first and missed his second try, but the USA got the ball back due to the intentional. Fisher was then sent to the line with 4.5 seconds to play and nailed both his shots to ice the win.
-It's a real confidence booster," said Varnado. -Russia is a good team. We played together, we faced a little adversity and we stuck with it. We got the win, so that's a big confidence boost."
Butler put the USA on the board first at 8:39 and Russia struck back 14 seconds later. That was a preview of the first quarter as neither team was able to pull away and at the end of the first 10 minutes of action the USA was up 19-16.
With the score even at 21-21, the Americans used a 12-0 run in the middle of the second quarter to break the game open, 33-21, at 3:31. Five different players scored during the run, including Butler, who had four points, while the USA's smothering defense forced Russia into four missed shots and a pair of turnovers.
The tide turned, however, as Russia put up six straight points to pull to 33-27. But a last-second three by Fisher gave the USA a 36-27 edge at halftime.
Five minutes into the third quarter the U.S. was again up by 12 points, 45-33. However, the USA's shooting went cold and Russia forced three turnovers, while stringing together a 15-2 run to take a 48-47 lead with one minute left in the third period. By the time the quarter expired, the game was an even affair, 50-50.
Zhukanenko posted a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Russians in the loss.
In the night's final contest, host Serbia (2-0) takes on Canada (0-2).
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.