Cold Shooting USA Loses In Semifinals

Aug. 5, 2003

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic - Cold shooting at precisely the wrong time relegated the USA Basketball Men's Pan American Games Team (2-2) to the bronze medal game as Brazil (4-0) went on a 13-0 near the end of the semifinal game to score a 92-80 victory in the J.P. Duarte Center in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Tuesday night.

The win pits Brazil against the Dominican Republic (3-1), which defeated Puerto Rico (2-2) 79-65. The USA will face Puerto Rico for the bronze medal at 4 p.m. (PDT) Wednesday. Meeting in preliminary play on Aug. 3, the U.S. missed a game-winning final shot at the buzzer and suffered an 86-85 loss to Puerto Rico.

"I think we played well for three and a half quarters, but we didn't close it out," said head coach Tom Izzo (Michigan State University). "We got what we deserved, and they got what they deserved. Turnovers down the stretch killed us."

Gonzaga University senior Blake Stepp played 22 minutes, his most in the four Pan Am Games, but went 0-for-4 from the field - all from 3-point range. He went 3-for-4 from the line for all three of his points and had one rebound, assist, turnover, blocked shot and steal each.

Leading 43-37 at halftime, the USA extended the margin to 11 with a 10-5 run to open the third quarter, capped when Chuck Hayes (Kentucky/Modesto, Calif.) scored a transition layup off a play that began on his own steal to make the score 53-42 with 6:34 showing.

Shaking off their dismal first half 3-point shooting (1-of-13, 7.7 percent), Brazil answered by finding ways to get to the free throw line and outscoring the USA 18-10 to close out the quartetr and going ahead for the first time on a shot-clock beating layup for a 64-63 lead as the fourth quarter started. Brazil was aided in its run by a pair of treys and by sinking all eight of its free throw attempts.

The USA took the lead back on a three-point play by Brandon Mouton (Texas/Lafayette, La.) for a 66-64 lead with 9:46 left in the game. The teams traded scoring trips during the next five minutes as the USA continued to solve Brazil's full-court press for close-in looks in transition. But the press was sapping the energy from the USA team, and they held their last advantage when Hayes tipped in a miss by Arthur Johnson (Missouri/Detroit, Mich.) for a 76-74 lead with 4:18 remaining.

From there, the USA went cold and Brazil went on a tear, reeling off 13 unanswered points, eight of which came from the free throw line. Stepp hit a free throw with 30 seconds to go and Josh Childress (Stanford/Los Angeles, Calif.) sank a 3-pointer with six seconds showing, but by then all that was left was deciding the final margin.

"We didn't execute," said Emeka Okafor (Connecticut/Houston, Texas), who led the USA with 18 points. "They made it very difficult down the stretch and we did not respond. Its tough, because we played so well, but you can have one bad quarter and lose the game. Now we have to focus on bringing home a medal."

The USA's scoring was supported by Hayes with 15, and Rickey Paulding (Missouri/Detroit, Mich.) with 11. Hayes added a game-high 13 rebounds for the first USA double-double of the tournament. Barrett passed off for a game high five assists. Marcelo Machado led all scorers with 22 for Brazil, with Guilherme Giovannoni adding 19 and seven boards.

Forcing the Brazilians into 42.6 percent shooting for the night, including just 14.8 percent (4-27) from 3-point range, the Americans were done in by the foul line. The USA was whistled for 30 personal fouls which resulted in Brazil making 36-of-45 foul shots. Brazil was called for 18 fouls which saw the USA score on 11-of-13 charity tries. The USA shot 46.4 percent overall, and 31.3 percent (5-16) from beyond the arc. Brazil managed just a one rebound advantage, 29-28, and the USA turned the ball over 16 times.



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