Team USA Beats France

France didn't retreat, but it probably should have after Team USA got off to a fast start and utilized a stifling defense to win their men's under-19 world championship game 71-55 early Friday morning in New Zealand.

Team USA, guided by Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon, limited France to 32.1-percent shooting to run its record to 2-0 going into a July 4 matchup against Egypt at 11 a.m. there. France fell to 1-1. It's the final game in the preliminary round, but the U.S. has advanced into the July 6-8 Second Round. A victory versus Egypt would insure the United States of the Group B No. 1 seed for the second round.

Seth Curry (Duke / Charlotte, N.C.) paced Team USA's scoring in the win with 12 points, while Gordon Hayward (Butler / Brownsburg, Ind.) added 11 points. Pitt sophomore guard Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh / Scotch Plains, N.J.) chipped in 10, and Terrico White (Mississippi / Memphis, Tenn.) added nine points.

"It was a pretty decisive win, but I thought we could have played better,'' Dixon said. "They're good. They're athletic. We couldn't dominate them inside, and we knew that going into it.

"So, that was a little different for us. We needed to shoot the ball well, and we didn't. But I think our defense was pretty good, and that was really the margin of victory.''

The USA sprinted from the opening tip, forcing France into three quick turnovers while scoring the game's first nine points, five of those coming from Gibbs with a big 3-pointer.

"We knew they were a tough team,'' Gibbs said. "So, we wanted to make a statement quick, make a statement early, bring our intensity, and I think that's what we did.''

France countered with six straight points to make the score 9-6 with 5:42 remaining in the first quarter, but Curry made good on his first two 3-point tries of the contest to lift the U.S. to a 19-8 lead.

"I had a little bit of rhythm,'' Curry said. "Some guys penetrated and kicked it out to me, and I was able to knock them down. But after I hit my first two threes, they went box and one, and that just opens it up for my teammates to get open shots. And that's when we pushed it up.''

Taking a 19-10 lead into the second quarter, France guard Andrew Albicy hit two treys to reduce the USA's lead to 21-16. A basket by DeAngelo Casto (Washington State / Spokane, Wash.) followed by five points from White to improve the U.S. lead to 28-16 with 5:32 remaining before half.

The U.S. outscored France 7-4 over the second quarter's final 5:05 and went to its locker room at halftime with a 35-20 lead.

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