Team USA Falls to Australia in Preliminary Round Play at World University Games

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KAZEN, Russia – In a game that featured 11 lead changes and 10 tied scores, the 2013 USA Basketball Men’s World University Games Team lost to Australia, 93-84 on Thursday night at Basket Hall 1 in Kazan, Russia.

Facing an Australian (3-1) roster that included five players with senior national team experience, the USA led by five points, 64-59, heading into the final quarter, but it could not shut down Australia’s Jason Cadee, who scored 16 of his 23 points in the final 10 minutes to help spur his side to the win.

“We had the five-point lead as we entered the fourth quarter, and then I think we just struggled defensively,” said USA head coach Bob McKillop (Davidson College). “We struggled to defend screens, we struggled to limit them to one shot, we struggled to contain penetration, and the struggle on the defensive end carried forward on the offensive end where we rushed things too much because we became in a hurry to score rather than stay within the framework of the system.”

Team USA (3-1) will wrap up preliminary round play against Canada (4-0) at 1 p.m. (times listed are local; Kazan, Russia, is +8 hours from EDT) on July 12.

Should the USA win against Canada, a three-way tie for first would result between the USA, Australia and Canada, meaning the two medal quarterfinal spots out of Group C would come down to point differential. The USA needs to win by 10-or-more points to finish ahead of at least Australia in the standings and reach the medal round.

“We just have to revitalize our spirit,” McKillop said. “It was shaken by this, it was shaken by the exhibition loss. It's a very uncommon situation for USA Basketball. Leadership from the coaching staff and leadership from the team is going to be vital right now.”

For the first time in the USA’s four games it lost the rebounding battle, albeit by a slim margin of 42-41.

Doug McDermott (Creighton/Ames, Iowa) finished with 22 points, Spencer Dinwiddie (Colorado/Woodland Hills, Calif.) had 14 and Yogi Ferrell (Indiana/Indianapolis, Ind.) and Sean Kilpatrick (Cincinnati/Yonkers, N.Y.) had 10 points apiece. Additionally, Cory Jefferson (Baylor/Killeen, Texas) grabbed 11 boards.

Dinwiddie also added two rebounds, two assists, one block, and one steal.

“We didn't play as hard as we could have,” said Treveon Graham (VCU/Temple Hills, Md.), who finished with five points, six rebounds and five assists. “I think that allowed them to get open shots at the end to where we would normally be out on the shots and contest them well enough for them to miss.”

The USA trailed by as many as five points, 11-6, at 5:55 in the first quarter, before three 3-pointers in the last five minutes of the stanza helped the USA tally 13 points to Australia’s nine to finish the first period down by just one point, 20-19.

Kilpatrick, who had closed the first quarter with a 3-pointer, opened the second period with another three, but neither team was able to find breathing room. The score was tied at 26-all at 6:18, at 33-all at 3:06 and then at 40-all at 18.0 seconds when Cadee sank a long-ball. In the last possession of the first half, Dinwiddie pulled up for a three at the buzzer to give the USA a three-point margin at halftime.

Both teams started the third quarter with another 3-pointer before Jefferson made two free throws to put the USA up by five, 48-43 at 7:13. Trading baskets for the next few minutes, the USA put together consecutive scores, including a 3-point play from Ferrell at 2:44 that gave the USA its largest lead of the game, 59-49.

Australia countered the USA’s next five points with its own three-point play and a 3-pointer, and with two made free throws from Cadee at 23.6 seconds, had pulled back within five points, 64-59, headed into the final 10 minutes.

With three 3-pointers and two scores in the first 3:24 of the fourth quarter, Australia quickly erased that margin and led 72-65, while the USA went scoreless from the field and made just one free throw in that time. The USA ended the draught with a score from Dinwiddie at 6:20 and an alley-oop to Jefferson at 5:47 that shrunk the gap to 72-69, but Australia again jumped ahead with a 6-0 spurt to lead 78-69 at 4:22.

A 3-pointer from McDermott followed by two free throws from Kilpatrick pulled the USA within four 83-79 at 1:28, but Cadee scored four-straight points out of time out to put Australia back up 87-79. With the USA calling a timeout at 30.2, McDermott hit a three out of the break to bring the score to 87-82 at 28 seconds, and Kilpatrick scored a drive at 20.2 to keep the USA’s hopes alive, 88-84.

As the USA was forced to foul, Cadee missed two free throws at 18.8 seconds, but Australia collected the offensive rebound and was fouled, resulting in two points. The game reached its 93-84 final when Cadee converted a three-point play at 3.1 seconds.

Australia also saw 22 points from Cameron Bairstow, who plays alongside the USA’s Alex Kirk (Los Alamos, N.M.) at the University of New Mexico.

Following preliminary round play, the first and second-placed teams in each of the four pools advance to the medal quarterfinals on July 14 to compete for first through eighth places; while the remaining teams will play out for ninth to 24th places. The semifinals will be played on July 15, and the finals will be contested on July 16.

Assisting McKillop on the USA sideline are John Beilein of the University of Michigan and Frank Martin of the University of South Carolina.

The USA is looking for its first gold medal at the World University Games men’s basketball competition since 2005, and currently holds a 141-10 all-time record in World University Games play.