USA 74 Russia 79
Down by 10, 30-40, at the half, Team USA launched a furious 11 point comeback in the third period to regain the lead, 53-52, going into the fourth period. Russia's #2 guard Dmitry Kulagin hit a two point jumper 23 seconds into the fourth period, and despite knotting the score twice (at 54 and again at 56) over the next minute and a quarter, the Americans never regained the lead, thus ending the defense of their 2009 U19 title with a five point loss. Connecticut's Jeremy Lamb and Russia's Dmitry Kulagin shared scoring honors by dropping 21 apiece. Kuligan shot 8-13 (5-6, 3-7) from the floor and 0-0 from the free throw line, while Lamb shot 9-22 (0-3, 9-19) from the floor and 3-4 from the charity stripe. Three Russians, 6-7 forwards Vladislav Trushkin (19 points) and Sergey Karasev (17 points) along with guard Alexander Varnakov (11 points), recorded double digit points while two Americans, Joe Jackson (13 points) and Meyers Leonard (11 points) also contributed double digit points in the American effort. Dmitry Kulagin recorded a double-double by leading all rebounders as well grabbing 12 misses. Tony Mitchell paced the Americans with seven.
Picking over the game boxscore to develop some possession-based stats for the game...
It Was the Defense...
Team USA's offense was good enough to get by today -- had they matched it with a strong defensive effort. Playing at a pace more to Russia's preference (a motion offense that set up perimater scoring), the Russians converted their possessions to points at a 1.11 rate. Converting their field goals at a53.6% (eFG%) rate throughout the tournament, the Americans "held them" to a disappointing 55.6% clip, the poorest American shot defense effort so far. While some may look to Team USA's lack of three point conversion -- they went 0-9 in the game -- perhaps more important was the relative ease with which the Russians converted their attempts, going 12-29 (41.4%, or a whopping 62.1% eFG%) from beyond the arc.
Villanova's rising sophomore James Bell started his seventh tournament game, but logged just 10 minutes, all in the first half. Bell shot 0-2 (0-0, 0-2), scoring no points. He grabbed 3 rebounds (all defensive boards) and committed 3 personal fouls.
Who's Got Next?
With this defeat, Team USA is consigned to the Classification Rounds, and will play two more games, the first against Team Poland tomorrow, to determine where, between #5 and #8, the team will be ranked at the close of the tournament.