USA Basketball Falls To China 83-82

Aug. 30, 2001

BEIJING, China - Fighting back from an 11-point deficit late in the game, the USA (6-1) missed a pair of shots with less than 10 seconds to go and was edged by host China (6-0) 83-82 in the medal semifinal game on Thursday night in Beijing.

The United States, which received a 26-point effort from Juan Dixon (Maryland / Baltimore, Md.), will play the loser of the Yugoslavia vs. Germany game for the bronze medal on Friday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. (local), while the winner of that contest will advance to the gold medal game against China. The loss stopped the USA's winning streak at the World University Games as the U.S. strung together 46 consecutive victories at the WUGs.

Gonzaga University guard Dan Dickau played 7 minutes, going 1-for-2 from the field, including 0-for-1 from 3-point range, for 2 points.

"I'm very proud of the guys, I thought they played very hard," said USA and Penn State University head coach Jerry Dunn. "We got after it defensively and really created some turnovers, especially early in the game. We got down early, but we fought back and put ourselves in a position to win the basketball game. I thought we did a good job of preparing, both mentally and physically. Things just didn't go our way and we ended up the short end of the stick. But that's not indicative of the efforts of these kids. We practiced for six days before we came over here and we came together as a team extremely well over the last couple of days.

"China did a very good job tonight on both ends of the floor," added Dunn. "They have some really talented players, extremely big obviously, and they do a real nice job of executing their offense."

With just under four minutes to go in the game, the United States trailed 81-70 when Roger Mason, Jr. (Virginia / Silver Spring, Md.) nailed a 3-pointer, which was followed by two from Dixon and the U.S. was back in the game, 81-79, with 1:51 on the clock. China's Zhang Cheng scored his team's final points at 1:32 to increase the gap to 83-79. After the USA committed one of its total of six turnovers on the night, Mason stole the ball, but the Americans were unable to convert and China grabbed the rebound. However, Zhang was whistled for a travel and the ball was again in the USA's hands with 48 seconds showing. Thirteen seconds later, Dixon hit a 3-pointer for the game's final points and China called a time out with 35 seconds to go to regroup. The hosts then turned the ball over on their inbounds pass and the U.S. again had a shot at the win. Dixon stepped out for a three, the ball hit the rim and Chris Owens (Texas / Duncanville, Texas) came up with the rebound, but s! tepped out of bounds and it was again China's ball. After a miss on China's end with 11 seconds to go, the Americans pushed the ball up the court and Owens' shot didn't hit its mark, but Melvin Ely (Fresno State / Harvey, Ill.) was there for the offensive board, but his follow-up shot with three seconds to go was blocked and China advanced to the gold medal game.

"Chris (Owens) and I were just down there battling trying to get a quick shot," commented Ely on his shot at the end of the game. "We got one up, but it didn't go in. But you have to deal with that. We shouldn't have put ourselves in that predicament in the beginning, so we have to live with it.

"It's all about coming out and playing hard," added Ely. "Nobody came out here to slack off. We came out here to achieve a mission and we came up short. But we can still get a medal and that's what we're going to do."

The United States fell behind early, missing its first six shots of the contest, while China made 4-of-6 to go up 9-0 with 6:40 to go in the first quarter. At 5:52 Owens put the USA on the board with the score showing 11-2 in favor of China. The USA's shooting slowly picked up and the squad finished the first quarter shooting 35.3 percent (6-17 FGs) from the field, but fell behind 25-14 due to China's 55.6 percent (10-18 FGs) shooting in the first quarter.

Opening the second quarter on a 13-4 run, the United States went to four different players for points and jumped back to within two points, 29-27, at 4:51. With China up 37-36, Dixon hit a floating jumper and the United States grabbed its first lead of the contest, 38-37, with 1:44 to go in the half and went into the locker room holding a slim 42-40 edge.

The United States earned a 46-40 edge, but China fought back and pulled ahead 47-46 at 7:41.After an Andre Barrett (Seton Hall / Bronx, N.Y.) field goal, China hit a three, but Dixon countered with a trey of his own and the United States held onto its final lead of the game, 51-50, at 6:54. With 3:15 to go in the third, Earl Barron (Memphis / Clarksdale, Miss.) nailed a 3-pointer to knot the score at 62 apiece. However, China closed the third quarter with a 7-4 run, five points coming from the charity stripe, to go up 69-66 with 10 minutes to go in the game.

The United States' shooting again went cold as China took off on a 12-4 run to open the fourth quarter and at 3:57, was ahead 81-70.

"Our goal was to come out here and get a gold medal," stated Dixon. "But we came up short tonight, we gave a great effort, but we have to leave here with a medal. We didn't come out here not to get anything, spend three weeks away from home. So we have to come out ready to play tomorrow against Germany and hopefully we can come away with the bronze."

In addition to Dixon's 26 points, the U.S. effort was aided by 12 points from Lonny Baxter (Maryland / Silver Spring, Md.) and Ely added 10 points and eight rebounds.

China's 28-year-old Jinsong Wang led his squad with 18 points, ZhiZhi Wang, a member of the NBA Dallas Mavericks, scored 16 points and had a game high 11 rebounds, Yao Ming had 12 and 25-year-old Menk Batere and Cheng each scored 11 points.

China earned 21 points from the line on 24 attempts, while the USA, which was whistled for 20 fouls compared to China's 12, earned four points on eight charity shots. The United States forced 17 Chinese turnovers and only committed six of its own, but was edged on the glass by a 42-36 margin.

Dunn is being assisted on the sidelines by collegiate head coaches Rod Barnes from the University of Mississippi and Al Skinner from Boston College (Mass.).

The World University Games, held every two years, is a multi-sport competition open to athletes between the ages of 17 and 28 (born between Jan. 1, 1973 and Dec. 31, 1983), who are, or have been within the past year, a student at a college or university.

The USA, which has been a dominating force at the WUGs since beginning play in 1965, dropped its overall record at the WUGs to 116-7 (.943 winning percentage). The U.S. has earned an incredible 16 medals in as many appearances at the Games, including 12 golds, three silvers and one bronze (1983).



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