July 5, 2011
Connecticut guard Jeremy Lamb (Connecticut/ Norcross, Ga.) tallied a game best 35 points and Florida center Patric Young (Florida/Jacksonville, Fla.) came up in overtime with two three-point plays off of monster dunks to lead the USA U19 Team to an outstanding 107-105 overtime victory over Lithuania (3-2) Tuesday in second round play at the FIBA U19 World Championship in Riga, Latvia. The win improved the United States' record to 5-0 and insures it of Group F's number one seed for the medal round quarterfinals. The U.S. will conclude its second round games Wednesday against Croatia (3-2).
"I felt we would have to play really well in order to have a chance to win the game. I felt we played well in spurts but Lithuania has continued to impress me, they impressed me with how they came back this afternoon," said USA mentor Paul Hewitt (George Mason). "We're very lucky to win this game and at this point we just talked to our team about trying to get better. We need to continue to improve as we move through the tournament and we've got to try and play better tomorrow against Croatia."
It was a rollercoaster game for the USA with all sorts of twists and turns. The Americans saw an apparent victory snatched away in regulation's finals seconds; then looked at defeat and at what would have been a heartbreaking loss straight on after falling behind by six with a little over three minutes remaining in overtime; then ultimately saw redemption, as the team's perseverance and belief paid off in the form of a hard-fought victory.
Lamb led the USA charge with 35 points which came on 13-for-23 shooting overall, 5-of-7 from behind the 3-point arc, and 4-of-5 free throws. He added four rebounds, two assists and three steals in his 37 minutes of action. Lamb's 35 points is the second highest single game point production for a USA U19 or Junior World Championship team member since the event was staged in 1979.
"I was just in a rhythm, finally got in a rhythm and I was able to knock down some shots," remarked Lamb on his day's work.
"Jeremy Lamb is a great scorer. I thought he used screens very well today. When he gets it rolling then it's easier for him to manufacture shots one-on-one," said Hewitt about his guard's scoring binge.
"In the second half I tried doing a good job of screening and getting guys open because I knew Jeremy Lamb was feeling it and we had to find ways to get him the ball and he took over," USA forward Doug McDermott (Creighton/Ames, Iowa) stated.
While Lamb's scoring powered the Americans and left them in control for much of the contest, it was Young's critical plays in overtime that carried the USA to its win.
Seeming to have victory in hand with a 94-86 lead with 37 seconds left in the game, Lithuania's Edgaras Ulanovas scored and was fouled with 29.7 second to go. His free throw was off target but Doyydas Redikas tipped in his miss to cut the gap to 94-90. Jonas Valanciunas added another basket and the U.S. lead was down to 94-92.
The USA's Young grabbed an offensive rebound with 7.3 seconds left in regulation and was fouled. Stepping to the line, he missed both attempts and Lithuania's Arnas Butkrvicius drove to the basket and was credited with two points on a goaltending call by the officials.
With the game even at 94 and 1.7 seconds left on the scoreboard, the Americans were unable to get a shot off.
Valanciunas, who was the number five draft pick of the Toronto Raptors in the recent NBA draft, started the overtime with a hoop, then Butkrvicius scored to give Lithuania a 98-94 lead with 3:35 left in the overtime. Tim Hardaway, Jr. (Michigan/Miami, Fla.) made one of two free throws to get the USA going in OT, but Ulanovas drilled a three to push his team's lead to six, 101-95.
It was time for Young to step up and he did so in a big way. Making two free throws with 2:39 left to close the deficit to 101-97, on the USA's next possession he received a pass from Lamb and was fouled as he slammed home two and made the awarded free throw to pull the U.S. back within one.
Jackson made a critical steal on the other end and fed James Bell (Villanova/Orlando, Fla.) who flushed down a breakaway dunk and the U.S. now led 102-101 with 1:35 left. Valanciunas scored to give Lithuania a one point advantage, but Young once again took change and grabbed a pass from Jackson, was fouled while slamming home another two. Young dropped the free throw and the U.S. led 105-103 with 1:07 left in overtime.
Lithuania tied the game with just under a minute to play on a pair of free throws from Ulanovas. The game's winning shot was a clutch turn back baseline jumper by Lamb with 1.5 ticks left on the clock. Lithuania called timeout and received the ball inside midcourt, and the desperation three was well off mark giving the USA the win.
"You have to put them behind you," said Young about his free throw misses at the end of regulation., ". Remember the player for the Buffalo Bills that dropped that touchdown not too long ago and he said he was never going to forget that, but you have to move on because it's going to affect you for the rest of the game. We went into overtime and there still an opportunity for me to redeem myself and for us to win the game even though they jumped out on us with a nice six point lead. When I went to the line I said `I'm going to trust and have confidence in what I do, what I practice in my craft and I went and knocked the free throws down, I went four-for-four.
"I thought it said an awful lot about Patric's toughness and mental toughness. To miss two free throws, it would have been easy for him to be disappointed and drop his head but he continued to play hard and made some big plays in overtime. I think overall our team showed some togetherness there, but in particular I thought Patric Young showed a lot of character how he bounced back from missing those two free throws at the end of regulation," said Hewitt about Young's play.
In addition to Lamb's 35 points, Joe Jackson (Memphis/Memphis, Tenn.) posted 19 and added six assist. Young finished with 15 points and seven rebounds, while McDermott added 13 points and eight rebounds, and Hardway capped the double-digit scoring with 10 points. Tony Mitchell (North Texas/Dallas, Texas) grabbed eight rebounds, marking the fifth straight game he has led or shared for the USA's high rebounding effort.
The Americans started well and after getting out to an 11-7 lead, ripped off seven straight points to expand its lead to 18-7. At the conclusion of the first 10 minute period the USA led 25-15. The two squads battled evenly over the first five minutes of the second quarter, and with 4:21 left the U.S. lead stood at 37-29. The USA offense got things going and after rolling to an 11-0 offensive spurt, the lead was 19, 48-29, with 2:02 to play in the quarter.
Lithuania responded right back and closed the half with a 10-1 run of its own that left the Americans up by 10, 49-39, at the half.
Lithuania cut the USA advantage to five in the third quarter, but a Jackson drive an layup just before the buzzer pushed the USA lead to 69-60.