Men's Basketball: USA Falls to Serbia

  • June 28, 2009 07:17 PM
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June 28, 2009

Despite receiving double-digit scoring efforts from four players, the 2009 USA Men’s World University Games Team (1-1) was defeated 98-82 by host Serbia (2-0) in the 2009 Serbia International Invitational on Sunday night in Belgrade. Evan Turner (Ohio State / Chicago, Ill.) came off the bench for team-highs of 16 points and six rebounds, Corey Fisher (Villanova / Bronx, N.Y.) scored 12 points, while Talor Battle (Penn State / Albany, N.Y.) and Da'Sean Butler (West Virginia / Newark, N.J.) chipped in 10 points apiece.

In the night’s earlier contest, Russia (1-1) used a 20-9 second quarter to aid in its 80-74 victory over Canada (0-2).

“Tonight’s game was exactly what I thought it would be, and it’s what we were very concerned with,” said USA and University of Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan. “They sent a message. They are bigger and stronger inside. They are going to take it there, and they are going to try to shove it down our throats. When we try to do the same at the other end, we have to learn about the contact and what officials are going to call. The main thing is not to overreact to how a game is being called. It’s a different game, and for some of our guys, the extra step really hurt. The Serbians really know how to use that. We were thinking we were in position to take a charge, and they took one more step to go by the defensive player.”

“Serbia came out and played hard,” said Fisher. “We came out and played hard. We came up short. This is an exhibition game just to get us ready for when the real thing happens this week. We can’t look back. We have to look forward and just come together as one.”

Serbia struck first and jumped to a 13-6 lead in the opening minutes. However, Fisher scored a 5-0 run for the USA to pull the team back to within two points, 13-11. From there the quarter remained close, and with less than a minute remaining in the period the score was knotted at 24-24. The U.S. closed the first stanza on a 5-0 spurt, thanks to a driving bucket from James Anderson (Oklahoma State / Junction City, Ark.) and a 3-point play from Turner, to go up 29-24.

The game remained a hard-fought battle in the second quarter, but the USA held its ground and took a three-point, 50-47, lead into the halftime locker room.

During the first half, the USA was called for 17 fouls and Serbia took advantage of its 26 trips to the line, making 20 of its tries. The USA went 8-of-10 from the line in the first half.

The USA entered the second half with six players showing at least two fouls each, Craig Brackins (Iowa State / Palmdale, Calif.) was whistled for three in the first half, and Serbia wasted no time taking it to the U.S. big men. Trevor Booker (Clemson / Whitmire, S.C.), Lazar Hayward (Marquette / Buffalo, N.Y.) and Deon Thompson (North Carolina / Torrance, Calif.) each picked up their third fouls and Brackins was called for his fourth just 3:13 into the third period. At the 4:07 mark, Thompson collected his fourth and Serbia, which put on a full-court press early in the second half and was a perfect 8-of-8 from the line, was on top 66-55. By the end of the third quarter, the hosts held a 12-point, 76-64, advantage.

“Obviously, you have to keep getting better, and we are motivated to keep getting better,” said Turner. “We have to learn to play through adversity. In certain situations, we have to make the most out of every play.”

Serbia went on an 8-2 run to open the final stanza, and the USA was never able to recover.

The USA was outrebounded by Serbia 39-29 and shot 43.8 percent (28-64 FGs) from the field and 65.6 percent (21-32 FTs) from the line, while Serbia also shot 43.8 percent (28-64 FGs) from the line, but connected on 39 of its 46 tries at the charity stripe for 84.8 percent.

The round-robin Serbia International Invitational concludes on June 29 with the USA taking on Russia (12:30 p.m. EDT) and Serbia against Canada (3:00 p.m. EDT).

The United States is set to open World University Games play on July 3 against Finland (2:00 p.m. EDT) and faces South Korea on July 4 (2:00 p.m.). Second round action is scheduled for July 6-7, quarterfinals will be played July 9 and medal semifinals are slated for July 10. The gold medal will be contested on July 11 (3:00 p.m. EDT).

The World University Games is organized by the International University Sports Federation and held every other year. The 2009 men’s basketball competition will feature 26 teams vying for gold July 2-11. Eligible athletes for the USA team must be currently enrolled in a college or university and have remaining NCAA athletic eligibility.

The United States has claimed a medal in every World University Games men’s basketball competition since beginning play in 1965 and has captured a record 13 gold medals, three silver medals and two bronze medals in the 18 WUGs in which a USA Basketball squad has competed. Entering the 2009 competition the USA owns an amazing 125-7 record in World University Games play.