Butler's Bombs Propel Team USA

Da'Sean Butler hit four of his six three-point tries to help propel Team USA to a 96-66 rout of Bulgaria in the quarterfinals of the World University Games.

Butler's marksmanship accounted for all 12 of his points in a game in which the U.S. was never seriously challenged. The Americans raced out to a 24-9 lead after one quarter and never looked back in getting their fifth win of the tournament.

The squad set a USA World University Games record with 16 made 3-pointers, wiping out the previous record of 12 set at the '95 WUGs

"I have played with a lot of great three-point shooters in my time," said Butler. "But everybody on this team is really skilled in a lot of ways – ball handling, passing, rebounding, everybody is very versatile."

Five players scored in double digits, led by 15 points from Quincy Pondexter.

The USA will go up against Russia (5-1) in the first medal semifinal game (11:30 a.m. EDT) on July 10, while Serbia (4-1) will face Israel (6-0) in the second semifinal for the right to advance to the July 11 gold medal game. In the other quarterfinals contests, Serbia advanced with a 68-46 victory over Turkey (4-1), Russia topped Lithuania (5-1) 82-73 and Israel defeated Germany (2-3) 66-49.

"They were fired up for this game," said USA and University of Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan. "Our guys were excited too, obviously. But Bulgaria, I think maybe they tried a little too hard because they seemed anxious. They probably took some shots they would like to have back. We were smart enough to take advantage of that, and that got us the cushion. They made one run in the second half, got it under 20, which might not seem like a big deal, but it was. We lost our focus for a little while, but we got it back and improved the lead again."

Receiving points from four different players, the U.S. ran out to a 9-1 lead to start the game. By the 4:28 mark, following a Butler three-pointer, the USA was up 16-5 and continued to increase its lead and at the quarter break, held a 24-9 lead.

By halftime, the game was well in hand, 46-24. In the first half alone, the USA outrebounded Bulgaria 32-18, shot a sizzling 47.1 percent (8-17 3pt FGs) from beyond the arc and held Bulgaria to a paltry 28.6 percent (10-35 FGs) shooting from the field.

Bulgaria outscored the U.S. 24-22 in the third quarter, however, the Europeans were never a serious threat in the second half. The USA's first five field goals in the final stanza were all threes, three of which came from Butler, and by the 4:18 mark the USA's lead was 83-59. Hayward finished the USA's record night with a three at 23.8 to give the red, white and blue its final points on the night, and largest lead, 96-94.

More from Butler:

On Bulgaria:

"We knew they could shoot the ball very well. During the game you could see that if we helped too much, they would knock down open jump shots. But our whole thing was to make them attack and shoot in-between shots - no shots in the paint and no three pointers. They did a really good job of getting to the basket though. They didn't settle for long twos, so that gave us a little trouble."

Are you expecting to see zone defense from Russia?

"Whatever other teams play, they are going to play. It just depends on how hard we do what we are doing. If Russia saw this game and thinks they don't want to play zone, then we will pass it into the post. If they don't want to go man and they go zone, we have big guys and guards that can step out and make threes. So, we are not just a one-sided team."

On reaching the semifinals:

"I'm very excited. This is my first USA experience, and it might be my last, you never know. I'm just trying to enjoy the moment. We are in the semifinals in Serbia - a place I will probably never get the chance to come back to. I'm just going to cherish the moment and enjoy it."

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