Published Wednesday July 6, 2011
Croatia hands U.S. first loss
Dario Saric scored 17 points for Croatia.
Box Score: Croatia 87, U.S. 85
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RIGA, Latvia — The United States suffered its first loss after five straight wins at the FIBA Under-19 World Championships as Croatia scored five points in the final 50 seconds on Wednesday to rally past the Americans 87-85.
Connecticut’s Jeremy Lamb led the United States in scoring for the second straight game with a game-high 25 points.
Creighton’s Doug McDermott had five points, five rebounds and an assist in 26 minutes. He was 2 of 8 from the field, including 1 of 5 from 3-point range.
Florida’s Patric Young was 7 for 7 from the field and finished with 15 points and eight rebounds. Memphis’ Joe Jackson scored 14 points.
The loss didn’t affect the United States’ No. 1 seed for Group F, and the Americans will take on Russia in Friday’s quarterfinals at 8:45 a.m. CDT.
Russia was the fourth-place finisher in Group E, where it finished 3-3 after Wednesday’s 73-63 victory over Latvia.
Friday’s other quarterfinals match Poland vs. Lithuania, Australia vs. Serbia and Argentina vs. Croatia.
The semifinals are scheduled for Saturday. The United States-Russia winner will meet the Poland-Lithuania winner, while the Australia-Serbia winner will take on the Argentina-Croatia winner. The United States and Lithuania are the gold-medal favorites.
The championship will be played Sunday, when the three consolation-medal games will take place. All teams have Thursday off.
“Congratulations to Croatia. They played very, very well,’’ U.S. coach Paul Hewitt said. “They did a great job of spreading us out on the offensive end.
“They made our defense have to scramble, and they shot the ball very, very well. They played with more purpose than we did and deserved to win. We did have a chance at the end, but we didn’t do some of the things we needed to, especially defensively, to hold on to the win.
“I think rest right now is probably the best thing for our guys, just kind of get away from basketball, get their minds clear as we get ready for the one-and-done situation.”
Whether it was Tuesday’s 107-105 overtime win against Lithuania or the United States’ sixth game in seven days, the Americans struggled to find their rhythm from the opening tip.
“We started a little slow,’’ Lamb said. “I know some people were tired, and we just didn’t play with the energy we were supposed to.”
Toni Katic, who led Croatia with 21 points, made one of two free throws with 20.4 seconds left to deliver an 87-85 lead. Lamb then missed the United States’ final shot, and Croatia grabbed the rebound to ice its win.
The Americans shot 47.3 percent from the field and owned a 46-32 rebounding advantage. Croatia, which had nine turnovers, shot 49.3 percent from the field and went 7 for 20 from 3-point range.
Boris Barac added 18 points for Croatia, and Dario Saric scored 17 points.
Asked what it would take to win the remaining three games and bring home the gold medal for a second straight championship, Hewitt said, “All 12 guys contributing. I don’t think you win three games in three days relying on five or six guys.
“I think we’re going to need all 12 guys, even if it’s just to provide minutes from the bench or coming in the game diving on a loose ball, helping us get a stop or making a play offensively.”