July 8, 2009
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Both the United States and Australia, featuring Washington State University men's basketball members, pulled out close wins as the U.S. (6-0) defeated Lithuania (3-3), 76-69, and Australia (6-0) came out on top of Croatia (5-1), 79-74, Wednesday NZDT at the FIBA U19 World Championship.
Both the USA and Australia had already secured spots in the quarterfinals, but now each has clinched the No. 1 seed in Groups E and F, respectively. The Americans will take on Canada (3-3) in the quarterfinals, Friday, July 10 at 8:30 p.m. NZDT (Friday, July 10 at 1:30 a.m. PDT). Prior to that, Australia will face France (3-3), Friday July 10 at 4 p.m. NZDT (Thursday, July 9 at 9 p.m. PDT).
WSU rising-sophomore Klay Thompson (Ladera Ranch, Calif.) got his second-consecutive start for the USA, scoring a team-second best 10 points on 2-for-3 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc. The 6-6 guard added seven rebounds, also a team second-best, three assists and a steal in 22 minutes of action. Thompson's classmate, 6-8 forward DeAngelo Casto (Spokane, Wash.) did not play. USA Basketball announced that he has a torn meniscus of his right knee and will not play the remainder of the tournament.
"I felt like we all had to turn it up and I think we did," Thompson told USA Basketball. "It was good to have a close game like this because we learned a lot from each other and we learned a lot about our team. It was tough playing Lithuania tonight because it was all or nothing for them, they almost had that extra gear."
Thompson attempted USA's first three baskets of the game, connecting on his third, a 3-pointer at the 8:35 mark in the first quarter, cutting into Lithuania's early 4-0 lead. The Lithuanians rattled off five more unanswered points for a 9-3 lead with 6:13 to go in the period. The U.S. took its first lead of the game at 14-13 off Shelvin Mack's 3-pointer at the 2:35 mark. The Americans led by as many as four in the period, but ended the quarter with a two-point, 18-16, lead.
Thompson's first bucket in the second quarter, a 3-pointer, gave the U.S. a four-point lead, 24-20, two minutes into the period. His assist on Gordon Hayward's field goal capped the team's 5-0 run which put the U.S. up six until the 6:34 mark. Lithuania continued to chip away at the score, evening the game at 34 with a minute and a half to go, then at 36 to end the half.
The two teams remained even in the second half before Thompson scooped up a miss by his teammate Tyshawn Taylor for the put back at the 7:59 mark. Lithuania took the lead back at 41-40 with just over seven minutes to play in the quarter. The Lithuanians led by as many as five before a 6-0 run by the Americans gave them the lead back with 4:20 left in the quarter. A basket by Ashton Gibbs with 11 seconds to go gave the U.S. a four-point, 55-51, lead to end the period.
In a strong opening fourth quarter, the United States extended its lead to nine points, 65-56, with 6:46 to go. Lithuania scored six unanswered points to pull within three, 65-62, with 4:29 to go. Nearly a minute and half later the Lithuanians evened the score at 67 with three minutes left in the game. A 6-0 run by the U.S. gave the Americans a 73-67 lead with 1:38 seconds to play, as they held on for the 76-69 victory.
Kansas's Taylor led the USA team with 13 points, while Kentucky's Darius Miller added 10. Butler's Hayward led the team on the boards with eight rebounds. Lithuania's Eimantas Bendzius led all scorers with 21, putting up a double-double with 12 boards. Donatas Motiejunas added 12 points.
In Australia's thrilling victory over Croatia, Cougar incoming freshman Brock Motum scored 10 points and added a rebound, assist, steal and blocked shot in 13 minutes of action. Motum leads his team and ranks 12th in the World Championship with 15.3 points per game, while averaging just 19.5 minutes of action. He leads all players in the tournament with a .603 field goal percentage.
Motum entered the game at the 5:50 mark in the first quarter and immediately made an impact with an assist and four points in his first three minutes of action. He left the game at the 1:38 mark in the first period after the Australians had pulled back even with the Croatians, 19-19 after trailing by as many as five. Croatia used a 5-0 run to end the quarter leading 24-19. Croatia led the entire second quarter, leading by as many as nine with less than two minutes to go in the half, as it led Australia, 37-34, at halftime.
Australia opened up the second half with a 12-0 run to take a nine-point, 46-37, lead with 7:15 to go. The Australians extended their lead to 10, 49-39, with 4:41 left in the third quarter. Croatia ended the period with a run to pull within one point, 55-54, to start the fourth quarter. After Croatia tied the game at 66, Australia took the lead for good at 69-66 with just under two minutes to go, hanging on for the 79-74 victory.
Australia was led by Matthew Dellavedova with 17 points, while Cody Ellis put up 14 and Mitchell Young added 10. Tony Prostran and Tomislav Zubcic led the well-balanced offensive attack for Croatia with 14 points apiece. Zubcic grabbed a game-high eight rebounds.
The medal round quarterfinals begin Friday, July 10 NZDT. Aside from the Australia and France and the USA and Canada matchups, Greece (4-2) will take on Argentina (3-3) and Puerto Rico (4-2) will face Croatia (5-1).