Gold Medal Hopes End For USA Men With 111-108 Overtime Loss To Canada
TORONTO, Canada – The USA (2-2) and Canada (4-0) battled back-and-forth for 40 minutes for the right to advance to the 2015 Pan American Games gold medal game, and when the game was tied 97-97 after four quarters, they carried on in overtime and only when a USA 3-point attempt at the buzzer was off target did Canada earn the 111-108 victory.
“It was a gold medal effort by both teams. It was a heck of a ball game," said USA and Gonzaga University head mentor Mark Few. "I am really proud of our guys for how they competed in basically a road game. It was like a road environment at a big time college rivalry. I am proud of them. There were a lot of great performances. You got to tip your hat to Canada; they made some big plays and hit some big shots. They made basically one more big play than we did in the end."
The USA offense featured four players scoring in double figures. Bobby Brown (Dongguan Leopards, China/Los Angeles, Calif.) score 25 points and dished out a game-best seven assists, Anthony Randolph (Lokomotiv-Kuban, Russia/ Pasadena, Calif.) contributed 21 points and a USA-high six rebounds, Ron Baker (Wichita State/Scott City, Kan.) added 15 points and three steals, and Denzel Valentine (Michigan State/Lansing, Mich.) tossed in 11 points on 3-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc.
The 2015 Pan American Games men’s basketball competition concludes Saturday. Canada will clash against Brazil (4-0), 68-62 winners over Dominican Republic (1-3) in the day's other medal semifinal game, in the Saturday’s gold medal game (4:30 p.m. EDT), while the United States and the Dominican Republic will meet at 11 a.m. (EDT) for the bronze medal.
“You don’t want to go home empty handed,” said Valentine. “It does not matter what place you are in, you want to leave with a medal. Even if it is the bronze, our ultimate goal was the gold, but we fell short. We want to leave with something, so tomorrow we have to take it.”
The USA-Canada game was everything the partisan, capacity crowd and ESPN2 audience could hope for as it featured huge momentum swings, and plenty of big-time, clutch plays.
Canada led by a single point, 24-23, after the first 10 minutes, and by halftime had upped its lead to five points, 52-47.
The U.S. fell behind 60-54, but assembled a 9-2 scoring surge to move ahead 63-62 with 5:01 remaining following a basket from Damien Wilkins (Indios de Mayagüez, Puerto Rico/Orlando, Fla.).
With Canada up 68-67, Valentine drained three straight 3s over the next 57 seconds to push the Americans ahead 76-71. After Ryan Hollins (Sacramento Kings/Pasadena, Calif.) scored on a put back and Randolph sank two free throws, the U.S. entered the fourth period owning an 80-74 advantage.
Canada dominated the early minutes of the fourth and posted an 11-2 scoring run to jump in front 85-82, and the two teams slugged it out for the remainder of the quarter.
The U.S. lagged behind 90-86 with 5:22 to play, but an 11-4 offensive run, capped by a Brown jumper, fueled the USA to a 97-94 lead with 59 seconds left in regulation.
Canada’s Jamal Murray, an 18-year-old point guard who will suit up for Kentucky in the fall, and someone who was a thorn in the USA’ side the entire fourth and overtime periods, made a deep 3 with 36 seconds left to even the score at 97. The USA missed a go ahead shot, and Canada failed on a 3-point attempt from Murray with time expiring, forcing overtime.
Canada and Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Bennett scored his side’s first five points in OT as America’s neighbor to the North sprinted out to a 102-97 lead. But behind two points from Kaleb Tarczewski (Arizona/Claremont, N.H.) and four more from Baker, the USA surged back in front 103-102 with 2:05 left in OT.
A 3 from Randolph cushioned the USA lead to 106-104 with 1:45 remaining, but Murray made back-to-back 3-pointers to give his side a 110-106 lead with 55.9 seconds left.
Following a free throw by Canada, Brown scored to reduce the lead to three, 111-108. Murray, who finished with 31 points, missed a deep 3 attempt and with 7.1 seconds to play in OT. Following a USA timeout, the U.S. inbounded the ball from the sidelines and found Brown. Brown found space in the corner and launched the would-be game winner, however, it missed the mark giving Canada the emotional win in front of its ecstatic crowd.
“I was trying to get a good look for the 3,” said the 6-foot-2 Brown on his last-second 3-point attempt. “I knew they probably were going to try to foul. I thought I could have taken more time; I kind of rushed it. I knew he (a defender) was coming behind me, so I had to get the cleanest look that I could and it just went out.”
"We had a great look, even more so when you add the fact that they were going to use a foul. We had a good look from a great player, but it just didn’t go in,” added Few.
The USA shot 47.5 percent from the floor, and made 13-of-34 3-point tries. Canada managed to make 50.0 percent of its shots, and was 13-of-38 from 3.
The two teams protected the ball well, the U.S. had just four turnovers, and Canada recorded 12.
Canada dominated the glass and outrebounded the Americans 50 to 29, and pulled down 17 offensive rebounds that led to Canada outscoring the U.S. 18-4 in second chance points.
“Rebounding was a key. It was a really big key. It was a concern from the moment I started watching (the team train) in Colorado Springs. We are just not a very physical team,” said Few.
In Friday’s game to decide fifth place, Argentina (2-2) defeated Puerto Rico (1-4), while Venezuela (1-3) downed Mexico (1-3) 83-59 to capture the win in the game to decide 7th place.
Assisting Few with the 2015 U.S. Pan American Men’s Basketball Team is University of Colorado’s Tad Boyle and longtime NBA coach Mike Brown.
Overall, the Americans have now compiled an 89-17 record and captured eight gold medals, three silver medals and two bronze medals.