USA U19 Men Earn 100-52 Victory Over Mali in Fourth of July Wire-To-Wire Win
After a tight first quarter where the Americans (2-0) opened a 29-23 lead, the USA rode a 26-13 second quarter scoring surge and never looked back while rolling over Mali (0-2) for a 100-52 win at the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup in Riga, Latvia on Sunday. The Victory was the 100th win all-time for the USA in U19 competitions and improved USA’s U19 record in Fourth of July games to 5-0.
Holding Mali scoreless for a four-minute stretch starting at the 7:30 mark in the second quarter, the USA went on a 13-0 second quarter run to pull away. The run started with a 3-pointer from Jonathan Davis (Wisconsin/La Crosse, Wis.) and was followed by a traditional three-point play by Davis the next possession.
A statement dunk through the lane from Peyton Watson (Long Beach Poly H.S./Long Beach, Calif) kept the energy high during the run and helped to close out the half for the Americans.
The USA finished the half on a 21-6 run to secure a 19-point lead, 55-36 at halftime with Chet Holmgren (Minnehaha Academy/Minneapolis, Minn.) scoring seven of the last eight points in the half for the USA.
“I thought our offense was really good from the start,” said USA head coach Jamie Dixon (TCU). “They (Mali) came up with some loose balls and hurt us on the glass and that was the biggest difference (in the first quarter). So, we got the rebounds going back our way, and came up with some loose balls. Mali played hard and they played physical, and I think our guys were even surprised by how physical they were and how strong they were.”
The USA had all 12 players score in the game and six players finishing with double-digit efforts. For the second consecutive game, the USA was led by guard Jaden Ivey (Purdue/Mishawaka, Ind.), who tallied 14 points, two rebounds, and two steals. Kenneth Lofton Jr. (Louisiana Tech/Port Arthur, Texas) added 14 points, two rebounds and two steals and Caleb Furst (Blackhawk Christian Academy/Fort Wayne, Ind.) recorded 14 points, six rebounds, and one steal. Patrick Baldwin Jr. (Hamilton H.S./Sussex, Wis.) chipped in 11 points, a team-high-tying seven rebounds, two assists and one steal, while Holmgren pitched in 11 points, four rebounds, four assists and two blocks and Kennedy Chandler (Sunrise Christian Academy/Memphis, Tenn.) finished with 11 points, two assists and two steals.
“I think we just found our groove defensively, we started to get out front, started to get stops and doing what USA teams traditionally do,” said Baldwin Jr. “So, once we started getting stops and getting out and running, it opened up the game for us.”
The USA won the rebounding differential by a 58-49 margin, scored 100 points off 29 assists, forced Mali into 26 turnovers, leading to 25 points, and won the battle in the paint. The Americans also scored 68 bench points (Mali, 25 bench points) and never trailed in the victory.
“I thought we did a great job,” stated Dixon. “There were only a few questionable shots, and it was really unselfish all the way through and that’s what we’ve been preaching.”
In the second half, the USA really got it going, outscoring Mali 45-16, to secure the commanding victory in Riga. The USA finished the game strong on an 11-0 run in the final 4:31 of the game.
“We want to continue to get better as a team and compete to try to win the gold medal,” said Lofton Jr. “I am just trying to contribute, score some points inside, defend, grab rebounds and do whatever I can to help the team win.”
The free throw line was a frequent stop for the USA in this one, shooting 29-of-42 from the line, three makes shy of the USA U19 World Cup team record for most free throws in a game (32).
The USA will conclude their preliminary round play on Tuesday, July 6, at 1:30 p.m. (EDT) versus Australia (1-1) with the Round of 16 starting on Wednesday, July 7.
In the other games from day two, Canada (2-0) defeated Japan (0-2) 100-75, Lithuania (1-1) edged Senegal (1-1) 78-73, Argentina (2-0) pounded Korea (0-2) 112-74, Spain (1-1) nipped France (1-1) 60-59, Turkey (1-1) edged Australia (1-1) 64-62, host Latvia (1-1) held off Iran (0-2) 58-48 and Serbia (2-0) dodged Puerto Rico (1-1) 84-64.
Assisting Dixon on the USA sidelines are assistant coaches Jerod Haase (Stanford) and James Jones (Yale).
Reigning FIBA U19 World Cup gold medalist, USA men’s teams have won seven gold medals, three silver medals and one bronze medal while compiling an 100-14 overall record in U19 World Cup play since the event was launched in 1979. Even more impressive, the USA has won four of the past six U19 golds since 2009.