July 10, 2009
BELGRADE, Serbia (July 10, 2009) – The 2009 USA Men’s World University Games Team (5-1) saw its gold medal hopes slip away in the waning minutes after Russia (6-1) outscored the U.S. 20-9 in the final stanza for the 69-68 win on Friday night in Belgrade, Serbia. The U.S. still has a chance at a medal, however, and will face Israel (6-1) in Saturday’s bronze medal game (12:00 p.m. EDT). Host Serbia (5-1) advanced to the gold medal game against Russia after thumping Israel 82-56.
Corey Fisher (Villanova / Bronx, N.Y.) and Robbie Hummel (Purdue / Valparaiso, Ind.) scored 14 points apiece, while Deon Thompson (North Carolina / Torrance, Calif.) finished the night with a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds.
“That game was hard fought,” said USA and University of Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan. “Defensively, look at what we were making them shoot. Of course, they were playing hard too, and look what they did to us. Finding easy baskets in that game was very, very difficult. You have a bad shooting night one game, and then you are on the sideline for the championship game. Now we have to play for the bronze, which is a great opportunity for these guys to bounce back and leave on a winning note.”
“You have to give credit to Russia,” said Fisher. “They are a good team. Things didn’t go our way. That’s not an excuse. We came out today, we played hard and we came up with a loss. We have another game tomorrow, we just need to come positive, come strong. You have to give credit to Russia. They are a good team. Things didn’t go our way. That’s not an excuse. We came out today, we played hard and we came up with a loss. We have another game tomorrow, we just need to come positive, come strong.”
Owning a 10-point, 59-49, lead heading into the fourth quarter, the USA was called for four offensive fouls in the period and was held scoreless for a five-minute stretch. Trevor Booker (Clemson / Whitmire, S.C.) broke the scoring drought with a put-back that gave the USA a 63-58 cushion with 3:51 to play. At the 2:25 mark Talor Battle (Penn State / Albany, N.Y.) drove through traffic for a bucket that gave the U.S. a six-point, 66-60, advantage. Russia, however, converted on an offensive board, then Booker was called for a moving screen, negating Fisher’s long-range 3-pointer on the USA’s next possession. Russia’s Nikita Shabalkin’s dunk with 1:22 remaining closed the gap to 66-64.
After a USA miss, Shabalkin got a put-back to tie the game with 1:00 remaining. Fisher put up a 3-pointer that rimmed out, and Booker was there for the rebound and tried to go back up, but was sent to the line. He swished in both tries, giving the USA its final lead of the game, 68-66, with 44.6 seconds on the clock.
The American defenders worked Russia on the other end, but with time running down on the shot clock, Shalbakin made a three with 23.3 seconds to go. That put Russia ahead for the first time since the opening minutes of the game.
Ryan called a time out and upon returning from the break, Hummel inbounded the ball at mid-court to Battle. Battle worked the ball around, missed his shot but the ball got back to the USA’s Hummel, who was immediately double-teamed. His 3-point attempt was off the mark, but Fisher came up with the rebound and tried to put it back in as time expired.
“It was very contested,” commented Hummel on his final 3-point attempt. “I wasn’t sure how much time was left. I knew it wasn’t much so I was just trying to throw something at the rim really. They played good defense.”
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