Gibbs Starts Again; Leads Team USA To 6th Win

Pitt sophomore Ashton Gibbs started a second straight game at point guard for the United States in a 76-69 win against Lithuania in the FIBA under-19 world championship tournament Wednesday night in Auckland, New Zealand.

Lithuania (3-3) was fighting to advance in the medal round, but Team USA -- coached by Jamie Dixon from Pittsburgh -- ran its record to 6-0 to move into the quarterfinals as the Group E No. 1 seed. The U.S. faces Group F No. 4 seed Canada (3-3) Friday, July 10 at 8:30 p.m. (all times are Auckland local time which is 16 hours ahead of EDT).

Canada advanced to the medal round quarterfinals only after earning a surprise 67-57 win over Argentina Wednesday afternoon. Other quarterfinal matchups include: Greece (4-2) versus Argentina (3-3) at 1:30 p.m.; France (3-3) goes against Group F No. 1 seed and undefeated Australia (6-0) at 4:00 p.m., and Puerto Rico (4-2) takes on Croatia (5-1) at 6:15 p.m. In the consolation quarterfinals, Lithuania (3-3) will play Kazakhstan (1-5) and Egypt (1-5) will go against Spain (3-3) at 11:15 a.m.

Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas / Jersey City, N.J.) led the U.S. with 13 points against Lithuania and took advantage of some critical defensive stops in the closing minutes to hold on for the win. Ashton Gibbs played a team-high 25 minutes and scored eight points.

Lithuania came out strong, while the U.S. made just one of its first six shots to trial 13-7. But behind five points from Shelvin Mack (Butler / Lexington, Ky.) the US began to come back and led 18-14 after an 11-3 run. Leading 18-16 to start the second quarter, the US -- after a dunk from Gordon Hayward (Butler / Brownsburg, Ind.) -- went up 26-20.

However, behind six consecutive points from Donatas Motiejunas, Lithuania quickly cut the advantage, and the two sides traded baskets before going into the locker room at halftime with the score tied 36-36.

Lithuania, which scored 28 of its first half points in the paint, strengthened that first-half effort with strong rebounding. The Lithuanians pulled down 10 offensive boards and held a 26-14 advantage on the glass.

Lithuania outscored the US 10-5 over the first five minutes in the third and led 46-41, but Terrance White (Georgia / Lithonia, Ga.) nailed a huge 3-pointer, and John Shurna (Northwestern / Glen Ellyn, Ill.) added another 3-pointer and a turn-around jumper to put the Americans back in front, 49-46.

Lithuania regained the lead, 50-49, but the USA five closed out the third stanza with six straight points from three different players to carry a 55-50 advantage into the fourth quarter. Darius Miller (Kentucky / Lexington, Ky.) provided the US with a much need spark early in the fourth. With the USA clinging to a 59-56 lead with 9:18 left, Miller pumped in six straight points and blocked a shot at the other end as the US moved ahead 65-56 with 6:26 remaining.

But that didn't hold up, as an 11-2 run by Lithuania in the ensuing 3:20 tied the score at 67-67 with 3:06 remaining. Klay Thompson (Washington State / Ladera Ranch, Calif.) came up with a loose ball in a scramble and scored to break the tie that ultimately put the US ahead for good, 69-67.

Next it was Taylor's turn to take charge. The Kansas guard hit a jumper just inside the 3-point line and on the following possession scored on a hook off a drive that put the USA up 73-67 with 1:40 remaining. The desperate Lithuanians cut the gap to 73-69, but from there the USA made the stops and secured the rebounds to secure the win.

Taylor added four assists to his team high 13 points, Thompson finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and three steals, while Miller also recorded 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting, and added three rebounds and three steals. Shurna added nine points in the win, while Gibbs (Pittsburgh / Scotch Plains, N.J.) finished with eight points. Hayward grabbed tallied eight rebounds and five points.

The USA shot just 42.9 percent from the field and 31.8 percent from 3-point range, while Lithuania hit 47.5 percent of its shots. Lithuania also out-rebounded the USA 45-31, but the quicker USA team forced 23 turnovers while only committing eight overall.

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