First Quarter Surge Leads USA to 88-58 Win Over Senegal and into FIBA U19 World Cup Semifinals
The USA (5-0) faced physical play from Senegal (2-3) in the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup for Men quarterfinals in Riga, Latvia, but won three of the four quarters to secure an 88-58 victory.
The Americans went on a 14-4 run in the first 3:20 of the game, making three 3-pointers in that stretch. Behind points from nine U.S. players, the Americans outscored Senegal 32-14 in the quarter, including seven points from Mike Miles (TCU/Lancaster, Texas).
“I thought we played really good to start the game in the first quarter and thought we had tremendous passing,” said USA head coach Jamie Dixon (TCU). “The press was good for us early, and they (Senegal) kept coming at us. I’ve got to give them respect. They battled, they kept playing and they killed us on the boards.
In the second quarter, Senegal played tough, outscoring the USA 18-15, despite a 10-2 run for the USA to start the second period. The American’s advantage in the paint in the first half (26-12) and 17 points off of 11 turnovers from Senegal helped give the USA a 15-point lead (47-32) going into halftime.
“We got off to a good start, then we dropped off in the second quarter, said Miles. “We just had to maintain our energy, but we are glad we came out with a win for sure and we are going to get ready for tomorrow.”
The USA had all 12 players score in the game and four players finish with double-digit efforts. The American’s were led by Jaden Ivey (Purdue/Mishawaka, Ind.) with 12 points, four assists and one steal. Miles added 11 points, five assists and two steals, while Kenneth Lofton Jr. (Louisiana Tech/Port Arthur, Texas) also had 11 points to go with three rebounds. Chet Holmgren (Minnehaha Academy/Minneapolis, Minn.) chipped in 10 points, three rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Ivey scored the last six points of the game for the USA to help close out the win.
“Just to come out here and compete, it feels great,” said Ivey. “I just love my teammates, and we just all have fun. That’s the most important thing. We just play together, and that is what we did out here today.”
Ivey has had consistent play in the USA’s five wins in Riga, scoring in double figures in each of the USA’s wins and he is averaging 13.6 ppg., 3.0 rpg, 2.6 apg., and 1.6 spg. heading into the semifinals.
“I have a ton of confidence in myself, and I know what I can put out there on the floor,” said Ivey. “I know I can dish the ball, rebound, and do whatever the team needs me to do. Scoring the ball, that’s something I have been working on my whole life. I am trying to be more of a leader, be more vocal on the court and just play together. I just really have fun playing this game, and I love it”
The USA stayed consistent in the second half, outscoring Senegal 41-26 to capture the 30-point victory. The Americans ended the contest on a 19-8 run in the final 6:25 with strong play from both Holmgren and Ivey during that stretch.
“I thought we did a good job in the second half,” said Dixon. “We set the tone with some good passing and solid straight man-to-man when we took the press off.”
The USA dished out 26 assists in the game, force Senegal to 28 turnovers which led to 42 points, and outscored its opponent 44-32 in the paint. The USA lead the FIBA U19 World Cup in total points (490), assists (137), blocked shots (37) and is third in total rebounds (258).
With the win, the USA moves on to face Canada (5-0) in the semifinal round on Saturday, July 10. Canada has recorded win over Lithuania (80-71), Japan (100-75), Senegal (85-56), Puerto Rico (86-56) and Spain (81-77).
“They (Canada) are all players our kids know and are all high-major players going to college or at college, stated Dixon. So, we anticipated that Canada would be one of the final four teams, and that’s where they are. These are guys that our guys know, respect and are familiar with, so I think we know what we’re going to be going against.”
The semifinal winners advance to play in the gold medal game on Sunday, July 11.
“We expect a good game, we know they (Canada) play hard and we’re used to some of the players they have,” said Miles. We’ve played against some of them, we know they’re great players and they play at a high level. We expect and good tough game, but we also expect to come out with a win.”
In the other games from today, the classification quarterfinals saw Australia (2-3) take down Puerto Rico (1-4) 95-52, Iran (2-3) held off Mali (0-5) 71-59 and host Latvia (3-2) defeated south Korea (0-5) 90-67. Turkey (2-2) and Japan (0-4) are still set to play. In the quarterfinal round, Canada edged Spain (3-2) 81-77, France (4-1) nipped Lithuania (3-2) 84-79 and Serbia (4-0) will meet Argentina (2-2) to determine a berth in the semifinals.
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 103-14 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.