After going undefeated throughout pool play, Team USA advanced to the medal rounds of the World University Games. While Team USA didn’t face much of a challenge throughout their first five games, things picked up in the quarterfinals Sunday morning.
First up in the quarterfinals was Israel, who proved to be a legitimate challenger for the USA. After trailing throughout the first two quarters, USA utilized a 11-0 run in the third quarter to retake the lead and managed to stay ahead of Israel towards the end of regulation. However, a late Israel free throw, followed by an intentional miss and put back, forced the game into overtime.
Throughout overtime the game remained close until Dakota Mathias hit a go ahead three pointer with 22 seconds remaining. A pair of free throws by Mathias and P.J. Thompson would go on to seal the deal, with Team USA holding on to a 111-107 victory.
Leading the way for Team USA was Carsen Edwards, who had a monstrous performance as he scored 36 points. Both P.J. Thompson and Vincent Edwards also had productive days, adding a combined 43 points, while Dakota Mathias was the fourth player to reach double figures with 16. Team USA shot 49% from three on 41 attempts and forced 17 turnovers, doing just enough to get by.
“I thought this was an unbelievable back-and-forth game. Obviously, Carsen was really hot and really gave us a boost of confidence,” head coach Matt Painter said. “We were just able to grind it out and our guys showed a lot of grit by getting defensive stops and making some free throws at the end.”
The next game wasn’t so difficult.
In the semifinals Team USA went up against Serbia, demolishing their opponent by a 93-61 margin. Vincent Edwards had his way for Team USA, with 31 points on 12 of 15 shooting. The only other player to reach double figures was Carsen Edwards (16), but that was partially because Painter was able to empty his bench and spread some minutes around. While Serbia did muster up 61 points, the team was held to 36 points through three quarters and only 23 at the half.
Team USA will face the winner of Lithuania and Latvia tomorrow.