GWANGJU, Korea – KU Athletics reports: For the first time in three World University Games, the USA will play for a medal as it defeated Lithuania, 70-48, in the quarterfinals Saturday in Gwangju, Korea.
The USA, made up primarily of University of Kansas student-athletes and staff, went on a 25-2 run from the final minute of the third quarter to just over five minutes of the fourth period to outdistance Lithuania and advance to the semifinals against Russia, Sunday, July 12, at 6:30 p.m., 4:30 a.m. in Kansas, at Dongkang College Gymnasium. Russia defeated Estonia, 86-65, in the other quarterfinal. The last time USA played for a medal was when it won bronze at the 2009 World University Games, which are held every other year. USA finished fifth in 2011 Universiade and ninth in 2013.
“We played a bad third quarter, but we defended,” USA head coach Bill Self said. “Even though we only scored eight points in the third quarter, they only got 12. Then we go on a 25-2 run and it was because of defensive rebounding. We absolutely locked them up the last 13 minutes of the game. That was really a good display against a team that had been leading the tournament in scoring.”
With the score 43-42 with 1:04 left in the third quarter, USA guard Julian DeBose’s free throws started what would be an incredible run by the Americans. Guard Nic Moore made four of the first six points with two steals, resulting in a layup and a jumper. Guard Frank Mason III sandwiched in a traditional three-point play, forcing a Lithuania timeout with 8:38 to play and the USA up 52-42. Not two minutes later, Wayne Selden, Jr., drained a three-pointer off a forward Landen Lucas assist, forcing a second Lithuania timeout. Rolling, forward Perry Ellis dunked from another Lucas assist and Lucas then made a free throw to give USA a 58-42 lead at the 5:07 mark and Lithuania had yet to score in the period. Following a Lithuania basket by Paulis Dambrauskas at 4:44, the USA went on a 10-0 run en route to the victory.
Mason led USA with 18 points and four assists to go along with four steals. Selden, the Games leading scorer entering the day, poured in 13 points. Moore had six steals to add to his nine points, while Lucas pulled down a team-high nine rebounds in scoring seven points. Ellis scored 11 points with six boards. Dambrauskas led Lithuania with 18 points.
The USA team will play Russia in the medal round semifinals on Sunday, July 12, at 6:30 p.m. local, which is 4:30 a.m., July 12, in Kansas at Dongkang College Gymnasium.