Hardaway Jr.
UM

RIGA, Latvia -- Michigan's Tim Hardaway Jr. scored a team high 21 points and Connecticut's Jeremy Lamb tipped in his own miss to provide the USA with the winning margin as the USA finished off the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship with a nail-biting 78-77 victory against Australia (5-3) in the game to decide fifth place. The American team finished the championship with a 7-2 overall record.

“They completely and totally out toughed us in the first half and our halftime was all about just matching their effort level,” said USA and George Mason head coach Paul Hewitt.

“These guys have some pride, there’s not much you have to say,” said Hewitt on his team’s strong finish after the disappointing quarterfinals loss. “First of all, they have individual pride and have families they represent, and they have USA on their chests so they are going to come out and play very hard.”

Behind five points from Patric Young and four more from Doug McDermott, the U.S. opened a 15-10 lead with 5:22 to play in the first quarter. Australia countered with a 9-2 offensive spurt to take a 19-18 lead and the U.S. regain the lead after McDermott scored. Australia finished off the final two minutes of the opening stanza by outscoring the USA 5-1 and led 24-21 after the first period.

Australia upped its advantage to as many as eight in the second quarter, but the U.S. continued to fight back. Down 30-22, Hardaway scored eight straight points, hitting a pair of threes and finishing a fast break, to pull the Americans to within two, 32-30. Australia increased its lead back to seven but with 0.8 seconds left before intermission, Hardaway scored on a drive and was fouled, and after making his free throw the deficit stood at 43-39 at halftime.

Lagging behind 57-52 and inside of 2:30 remaining in the third quarter, USA forward Khyle Marshall scored a jumper, Hardaway finished off a fast break and Marshall scored on an offensive rebound to move the USA ahead 58-57. Hardaway finished off the quarter with a basket with eight seconds remaining to give the red, white and blue a 60-59 lead heading into the final 10 minutes.

With Australia owning a 63-62 advantage, U.S. guard Keith Appling took over. Making a pair of free throws with 7:10 left to give the U.S. a 70-69 lead, next time down the court Appling hit a jumper in the lane, and he followed that with a drive to the hoop that made the score 68-63. Young scored with a power move in the paint and the Americans had climbed out in front 70-63 with 5:11 left.

Team USA Results
Date Result
June 30 USA 115, Egypt 60
July 1 USA 80, Serbia 78
July 2 USA 82, China 66
July 4 USA 83, Canada 54
July 5 USA 107, Lithuania 105 (OT)
July 6 Croatia 87, USA 85
July 8 Russia 79, USA 74
July 9 USA 84, Poland 47
July 10 USA 78, Australia 77
Final Record 7-2

Australia countered with an 8-2 run to close the lead to one, 72-71. Hardaway missed a shot, then missed his offensive put back, and after securing the offensive rebound again, scored on his third attempt to cushion the USA lead to 74-71.

Following a Meyers Leonard jumper, the USA led 74-71 with 1:15 to go. However, Australia was not finished and reeled off four consecutive points to regain the lead 77-76 with 40 seconds showing on the clock.

Following a USA timeout, Lamb drove baseline and let a floater go that bounced on the rim, then managed to get to the rim and tip it in his shot to give the Americans a 78-77 lead with 29 seconds remaining.

“I shot the floater and thought it would be good but I missed it and I luckily was able to get the tip in,” explained Lamb.

Australia, following a U.S. timeout with 8.2 ticks remaining, inbounded the ball to its leading scorer Hugh Greenwood, who had 26 points and to that point and who had made 6-of-13 3-point shots. Matched against the USA’s Hardaway, Hardaway kept the scorer in front of him and forced Greenwood into a desperation three that was well off target. Lamb came up with the rebound and the USA had the 78-77 win.

“Coach Hewitt and the coaching staff had total confidence in me to stay on their best scorers throughout this whole tournament, so I knew I was going to have to get one defensive stop and it was a do or die,” stated Hardaway. “He (Australia’s Hugh Greenwood) had 26 points and that’s their main guy so it’s either do die. I just made sure I stayed in front of him, contained him. They had four seconds left so I knew if I stayed in front of him for three more seconds he would have to put up a shot over me, so I just stayed in front of him and just contested the shot.”

In addition to Hardaway’s point production, the USA offense also benefitted from 13 points and five rebounds from McDermott, while Leonard contributed 10 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots. Young finished with nine points and five rebounds, and guard Joe Jackson added four points and a team high seven assists.

After seeing Australia make 5-of-11 3-pointers in the first half, the American D buckled down and forced the Aussies into 3-for-12 shooting from beyond the 3-point line in the third and fourth quarters.

After losing against the U.S. Saturday, Poland (5-4) bounced back to upend Croatia 82-70 in the seventh place game.

“I think again the experience these guys got and that they’re going to take back to their campus is going to make them better players in the long run,” added Hewitt/ “It’s a great tournament and this is my third time being involved with USA Basketball. Coaches and players who don’t take part are really missing out if you love the game.”

Assisting Hewitt on the U.S. sidelines were collegiate head coaches Randy Bennett of St. Mary’s (Calif.) and Cliff Warren of Jacksonville.