Saturday, August 20, 2011

World University Games 2011 -- USA Falls to Lithuania, Plays for 5th Place

USA 74-76 Lithuania
For the second time in less than two months a Lithuanian team eliminated an American team from medal consideration in an international tournament, as the Americans dropped a two point decision, 74-76, to that Baltic Republic in the World University Games held at Shenzhen University earlier today. Team USA took a 2-0 lead on an Ashton Gibbs jumper and remained on top through the first quarter. With Team USA nursing a 15-12 lead in the second quarter, the Lithuanians tied it up at 22 near the quarter's midpoint, but the Americans stretched it back out to five at the intermission, 42-37, on the strength of a 9-5 run in the last 1:49 of the period. Vanderbilt's John Jenkins went 3-3 from beyond the arc to provide all nine of Team USA's points in the last two minutes, salvaging what had been to that point a dismal 1-5 efficiency on three point attempts in the quarter.

The Lithuanians used the intermission to regroup, and came out swinging with a 7-0 run to open the third quarter, taking the lead, 44-42, for the first time in the game. Pressured for the first time in the tournament, the Americans dropped the third quarter by a 28-19 margin, shooting blanks from three point land (0-5), an uncharacteristicly anemic 4-8 from inside the arc and committing three turnovers. An 11-16 performance from the charity striped, coupled with six offensive rebounds kept Team USA in the game. Down by four going into the last quarter, Coach Painter's squad managed to tie once, at 74, in the last 1:55, but a foul by Draymond Green on guard Mantas Kadzevicius put the Lithuanians up by two, 76-74, in what became the final score. Five attempted field goals by the American squad (three 3FGAs & two @FGAs) in the last 1:25 failed to drop, sending Team USA to the Classification round to fight for fifth place. The score by quarters...


Lithuanian wing Gediminas Orelik recorded a game-high 19 points on 6-10 (5-8, 1-2) shooting from the floor and 2-4 from the line. Three other Lithuanians, Marius Valukonis (11 points), Edgaras Stanionis (10 points) and Gediminas Zyle (10 points) scored double digit points.

Team USA was paced by John Jenkins' 17 points on 5-10 (4-9, 1-1) from the field and 3-3 from the line. Ashton Gibbs and JayMychal Green chipped in 16 points and 12 points respectively. Trevor Mbakwe led all rebounders with (4-6-10) 10, while Kadzevicius and Orelik paced the Lithuanians with six apiece.

The possession-based breakdown suggests this was a defensive struggle...

Team USA87.90.8438.126.226.746.347.80.91
Team Lithuania0.8754.227.335.635.667.91.10

The high pace could be attributed to the number of turnovers committed by both teams. Uncharacteristically, the USA team was, third quarter aside, unable to rebound their misses effectively (26.7%), which, combined with an out-of-character 30 three point attempts (44.8% of their FGAs; the USA averaged 19.4 3FGAs in their five previous tournament games), worked to diminish their eFG% to 38.1%, well below their tournament eFG% of 59.4% going into today's game.

With the loss, Team USA will face Team Romania, the #2 seed out of Group A, who lost to Team Canada in quarter final play. The game will be played at 8:30 am (Eastern DST) in Shenzhen University's Luohu Gym.

Further Reading
USA Basketball posted a game recap on their website, along with a box score and post game quotes.

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