Kansas Guard Tyshawn Taylor Going for Gold

July 11, 2009

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor scored nine points as the USA U19 Championship Team defeated Croatia 81-77 to advance to the FIBA U19 World Championship gold medal game here Saturday.

The USA (8-0), which last won gold in this event in 1991, will meet Greece (6-2) in the gold medal game on Sunday, 7:30 p.m. (Auckland, New Zealand time, 2:30 a.m. Central). Greece advanced to the gold medal contest after posting the upset of the tournament, an 84-69 shocker over previously undefeated Australia (7-1). The gold medal game will be a rematch between the two teams with the USA having claimed an 85-69 victory over the Greeks in second round play on July 6.

Taylor had a team-high three steals to go along with three assists on 2-of-7 shooting for the game. The Jersey City, N.J., native five of the seven games played, his missed one due to the flu, and is third on the team with 9.7 points per game. Taylor leads the USA squad with 29 assists through seven contests.

“It was good to be in a game like that. We really haven’t had to do that – make some plays, make some free throws down the stretch, play smart. I thought we did a pretty good job of doing what we wanted to do out of the timeouts. I thought we made the plays,” commented USA head coach Jamie Dixon.

All 11 healthy USA players scored in the game, Gordan Hayward (Butler / Brownsburg, Ind.) led the way with a USA best 15 points and added eight rebounds. Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh / Scotch Plains, N.J.) scored 11 points, and Seth Curry (Duke / Charlotte, N.C.) and Terrico White (Mississippi / Memphis, Tenn.) each tossed in 10 points. Taylor added nine points, while USA big men, Howard Thompkins (Georgia / Lithonia, Ga.) and Arnett Moultrie (UTEP / Memphis, Tenn.), each scored eight points, with Thompkins grabbing a U.S. best eight rebounds and Moultrie snagging six.

Despite leading by as many as 16 points in the first half, the USA trailed 59-57 heading in to the fourth quarter after Croatia outscored them 26-11 in the third period. The two squads battled for control and with 3:14 remaining the scored was knotted at 70 all.

With the game up for grabs, the U.S. made the plays it had to in order to pull out the win.

Hayward started the string of game deciding plays when he drove baseline and slammed home two to give the USA a 72-70 lead with 3:14 remaining. It was a lead the U.S. never relinquished. Hayward’s Butler University teammate Shelvin Mack (Butler / Lexington, Ky.) cushioned the USA’s lead to 74-70 after he hit a 14 foot jumper, his only make from the field on the evening, with 2:31 to play.

Fouls were called on the next three possessions and while Croatia was only able to convert on 2-of-4 free throws, Taylor made 1-of-2 free throws and with 1:45 on the clock the U.S. was clinging to a 75-72 advantage.

Hayward was fouled with 57 seconds to go and calmly converted on both to make it 77-72. But Croatia rushed down court and guard Dino Butorac drilled his fifth 3-pointer of the game to make the score 79-77 with 42 seconds remaining.

The U.S. worked the clock down and White’s rushed shot was wide of the rim and as it bounced over the endline, Hayward jumped, grabbed the ball, and flung it back to Taylor who was standing behind the 3-point line. With the shot clock about to expire, Taylor heaved a long three that hit rim just a fraction before shot clock was to expire, and USA forward John Shurna (Northwestern / Glen Ellyn, Ill.) came up with the huge offensive board in the scramble. Shurna managed to pass the ball to Hayward, who was fouled as he looked to score.

“First off, I think John (Shurna) got the offensive rebound from Ty (Tyshawn Taylor) or whoever’s shot it was and that was a big time play right there. And he passed it to me and so we were able to get a shot up and get fouled. I think that kind of represents how we have played as a team the whole tournament,” said Hayward.

Shooting two free throws with 14.6 seconds on the clock, Hayward again sank both to push the USA’s ahead 79-75. Croatia’s Toni Prostran sprinted the length of the court for a layup, and with 10.1 seconds to play the score stood at 79-77. Inbounding the ball to Gibbs, he was immediately fouled. Going to the line for two free throws with 9.4 seconds to go, Gibbs made both to up the USA lead to 81-77, and after Croatia missed a pair of threes in the closing seconds, the USA had the win.