U.S. Men Knock Off Venezuela 70-53 in Pan American Games PReliminary Play
The U.S. men advanced to the medal round at the Pan American Games with a hard fought 70-53 victory over Venezuela, a team considered to be one of the favorites in the tournament, at Dibos Coliseum. Myles Powell (Seton Hall) scored a game-high 30 points.
With a 2-0 mark record in Pool A, Team USA has already clinched a spot in the medal round before playing Puerto Rico on Friday in its final game of Pool play. Puerto Rico is also 2-0. The game will be telecast on ESPNU at 10 p.m. ET.
“I’ve been saying that we get better every day,” said head coach Ed Cooley (Providence). “We matched their physicality. Our defense really won the game for us. We showed a lot of maturity. It was one of the most physical games I’ve ever been involved in as a coach.”
Powell scored 20 of his 30 points in the second half. For the game, he was 12-of-18 from the floor and 3-of-3 from the foul line. Geoff Groselle (Creighton) added 11 points and six rebounds. Alpha Diallo (Providence) finished with 10 points, five boards and five steals. Team USA won the rebounding battle 40-29 and held Venezuela to 17-of-61 shooting from the floor.
“We were able to limit them to one shot,” said Diallo. “We played as a team and maintained the same amount of physicality.”
Facing a Venezuela team with eight Olympians, Team USA did not show any fear at the start and led at the end of the first quarter 20-13. After making seven 3-pointers in Wednesday’s win against Virgin Islands, Team USA took the ball to the basket for layups and added five points from the line. Powell connected on three layups, all off drives to the hoop. The Team USA defense held Venezuela to 4-of-15 shooting from the field.
Venezuela responded with a 9-2 run to start the second quarter and tied the game 22-22 with seven minutes left in the quarter. Team USA regained the momentum with a 10-2 spurt to gain a 32-24 edge with 3:41 left in the half. David Duke (Providence) got four points in the run with a twisting reverse layup and a pair of free throws. At the halftime horn, Team USA took a 34-29 lead into the locker room.
Team USA got a little sloppy in the third quarter with a few turnovers, but survived with some solid defense. Powell made a couple of 10-foot baskets and Groselle hit a couple of layups. A free throw by Tyler Wideman (Butler) gave Team USA a 45-35 edge with 2:48 remaining in the quarter. Powell scored the final five points of the period on a drive and a 3-pointer to give Team USA its biggest lead of the game 50-37.
Team USA did not score in the fourth quarter for almost three minutes before Powell made a short jumper in the lane to make it 52-44. That hoop ignited a 13-4 run to make the score 65-48 and put the game away.
Powell was proud of the team’s accomplishments so far in the Games. “The BIG EAST is the best basketball conference in the country, but right now it’s not really about the BIG EAST. It’s about repping for your country.”
The BIG EAST Conference is representing USA Basketball at the Pan American Games. Providence’s Ed Cooley is the team’s head coach. Kevin Willard of Seton Hall and Mike Martin of Brown are the assistant coaches.
The Pan American Games is a multi-sport event featuring teams from North, South and Central American and the Caribbean, which is organized by the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) and played every four years in the year preceding the Olympics (2019, 2023, etc.).
Player roster, profiles and additional information are located at www.bigeast.com/panam.