Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon, who has guided the U.S. squad, was pleased that his players showed improvement after a rough quarterfinal game. Team USA, which canned 14 of 26 shots from 3-point range, is 7-0 and advanced to the Final Four to face Croatia (6-1) at 8:30 p.m. (Auckland local time, +16 hours EDT).
Croatia advanced after earning a solid 91-78 victory over Puerto Rico in the quarterfinals. Greece (5-2) will face Australia (7-0) in the other medal semifinal game Saturday. Winners of the semifinal match-up advance to Sunday's 7:30 p.m. gold medal game. All contests are being streamed live on www.fiba.com.
"We didn't play well in our last game and that may have been understandable as it was our sixth game, and we had our spot (into the quarterfinals) clinched,'' Dixon said. " But I thought today we played with a real sense of focus and urgency, especially offensively. I thought we were unselfish.
"It was good to see us shoot the ball well. I thought that was one of our strengths. We haven't really shot it great, but we did tonight. I thought we passed it well to get those open shots and we took good shots and that's all part of it. Take good shots, you shoot a higher percentage, you get a rhythm and you feel good and that's what we did tonight.''
Pitt's Ashton Gibbs started his third consecutive game and contributed eight points in 23 minutes of action. In Team USA's seven games, Gibbs is averaging 9.1 points, 2.4 assists, 1.0 steals and a team-leading 22.6 minutes per game. He has made four starts and hit 10 3-pointers.
From the opening tip, the 3-point shot was on for the USA team. Sinking 11-of-16 3-pointers in the first two quarters alone, the USA made 14 of 26 attempts overall. Six different U.S. players hit at least one three in the game's first 20 minutes.
The USA's 14 made 3-pointers set a new USA game record, surpassing the old mark of 13 (7/15/03 versus Lithuania). Also, the USA's 53.8 shooting percentage from three improved on the old record of 50.0 percent (7/22/95 vs. France).
"I could tell in warm up before the game, it felt good, just my stroke and I knew I could carry it over to the game,'' Seth Curry (Duke / Charlotte, N.C.) said before the game. "I was very confident out there. I was kind of struggling with my shooting the past few games, so it felt good to make some shots and help the team.''
Leading 10-9, Curry hit back-to-back threes and after Darius Miller (Kentucky / Lexington, Ky.) scored inside to finish off a 9-0 run that pushed the USA advantage to 19-9.
Leading 25-15 to start quarter two, six of the USA's first seven made baskets of the second quarter were from behind the 3-point line as the Americans took charge 45-22 following a three from Shelvin Mack (Butler / Lexington, Ky.) with 4:56 remaining before halftime. Canada rallied over the final 4:56 to outscore the U.S. 14-8, leaving the USA lead at 51-36 at intermission.
With 10 of the USA's 11 players pumping in points in the first half, the U.S. shot 62 percent from the field and was a sizzling 69 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. On the other end, Canada struggled with its shooting accuracy, sinking just 34 percent of its shots.
Canada whittled the USA lead to 14 with 6:10 remaining in the third quarter, but a 3-pointer from Klay Thompson (Washington State / Ladera Ranch, Calif.) stopped the comeback and Canada never seriously threatened the U.S. again.
All 11 healthy USA players scored, led by Gordon Hayward (Butler / Brownburg, Ind.) with 20 points on 4-of-5 3-point shooting and added three rebounds and three steals. Howard Thompkins (Georgia / Lithonia, Ga.) contributed 12 points and four rebounds, while Curry tallied 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the 3-point line.
John Shurna (Northwestern / Glen Ellyn, Ill.) added 10 points and four blocked shots, and Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas / Jersey City, N.J.) scored 10 points and also handed out a team high seven assists. Arnett Moultrie (UTEP / Memphis, Tenn.) led the USA's rebounding effort with a game high 11, including six offensive boards.
On the night, the U.S. shot 53.3 percent from the field, while holding Canada to 39.4 percent overall, 30.0 percent from 3-point, and the USA outrebounded their neighbors to the north by a 39-35 tally. In Friday's other game action, Greece (5-2) dismantled Argentina (3-4) 86-60; Australia (7-0) nipped France 79-73 (3-4), and Croatia (6-1) bettered Puerto Rico (4-3) 91-78. In the consolation quarterfinals, Lithuania (4-3) pounded Kazakhstan (1-6) 113-79 and Spain (4-3) overpowered Egypt (1-5) 88-73.
FIBA UNDER-19 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
FINAL FOUR/MEDAL ROUND PAIRINGS
Saturday, July 11, Auckland, New Zealand
Greece (5-2) vs. Australia (7-0), 6:15 p.m.
USA (7-0) vs. Croatia (6-1), 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 12, Auckland, New Zealand
Losers, Bronze Medal Game, 5 p.m.
Winners, Gold Medal Game, 7:30 p.m.
Team USA In Final Four
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