GOLD! USA Defeats Germany to Win World University Games
GWANGJU, Korea – In an epic battle of undefeated teams, the USA pulled together to beat Germany 84-77 in double overtime to win the gold medal of the 2015 World University Games (WUG) at Yeomju Indoor Gymnasium in Gwangju, Korea, Monday evening.
With the win, the USA (8-0), which consists mainly of University of Kansas student-athletes and staff, claimed its first gold in the World University Games since 2005 and its first WUG medal since a bronze in 2009. The USA has now won 14 gold medals in the World University Games which began in 1965. Germany fell to 6-1 in the 2015 Games.
“It’s a huge thrill, a huge honor,” USA head coach Bill Self said. “Our team really bonded and came together. To win it the way we won it – playing against a Germany team that outplayed us a majority of the game – we were dead tired, no legs, no lift, couldn’t make a shot and willed ourselves to win. I’m really proud of our guys and proud to be part of a very special event.”
USA guard Wayne Selden, Jr., hit a three-pointer off a feed from fellow guard Frank Mason III with 1:02 remaining in the second overtime to put the Americans up 78-77. USA crafty guard Nic Moore then stole the German inbounds pass, was fouled immediately and the SMU product drained both charity shots to put the Americans up, 80-77. Scrapping, Mason stole a Germany ball with 46 seconds and after being fouled made both free throws to put the game out of reach 82-77. Selden sealed the final score with another pair of free throws with 14 seconds left to play.
“We don’t want it easy,” Selden said of the come-from-behind victory for the gold. “They were a tough team. They battled down the stretch, but we never got down. We fought to the end. Frank was able to make some big plays and then he found me on the wing and I was able to make the big shot.”
Germany opened the first overtime on a 6-2 run to go up four at 72-68. USA pulled within one on a forward Perry Ellis drive and reverse lay-in to tighten the score at 72-71 with 38 seconds remaining. Following a Mathis Moenninghoff free throw by the Germans, Mason made another one of his driving layups to tie the contest at 73-73 with 9.5 seconds remaining and send the battle to its second overtime.
The battle was tied at 54-54 heading into the fourth quarter and the two teams traded baskets for the first three minutes of the period with four lead changes. Germany built a five-point advantage at 64-59 with 4:29 to play, but then Mason.
The Jayhawk guard scored five of USA’s final seven points, including two free throws with 21.7 seconds remaining to tie the score at 66-66 and send the contest into its first overtime. Ellis sandwiched in two free throws between Mason’s charity-tying shots.
“Coach just told me to stay aggressive and my teammates told me to stay aggressive – so that’s what I did,” Mason said of forcing the game in overtime and then a second one. “I went out and tried to make plays for them first, for me second. I made plays.”
Selden led all scorers with 22 points, while Ellis recorded a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Mason scored 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and the two overtimes. Mason and Selden each pulled down nine rebounds, which were one ahead of forward Landen Lucas’ eight. Mason also had a team-high six assists – with the one to Selden in the second overtime being the game changer. Moore ended the night with seven points, six rebounds and three steals, while forward Carlton Bragg, Jr. scored eight points for the Americans.
Down 2-0, USA went on a 14-0 run to open the game. Ellis scored USA’s first seven points in the run, while Mason made a floater and forward Hunter Mickelson a traditional three-point play. Mickelson ended the contest with seven points and five rebounds which included a pair of tip-ins during the second quarter. Late in the first quarter, Germany made seven free throws and guard Kevin Bright’s three-pointer as time expired narrowed the USA lead to 20-13 at the end of the period.
Selden opened the second quarter with a three-pointer, giving the USA a 10-point lead at 23-13. The Americans maintained the 10-point cushion until the 2:26 mark when guard Konstantin Klein made a three-pointer to chip away at the USA lead. With 20 seconds before half, Mason drove the lane off an offensive rebound to put USA up 38-31 but for the second-straight quarter, Germany made a buzzer beater. This time Hans Brase followed a three-point miss with a dunk and the USA held a 38-33 lead at intermission.
Germany seized the moment in the third quarter after USA built a 50-42 lead on a pair of Selden free throws. The Germans went on a 12-2 run to take a 54-53 lead on a Bright three-pointer. Mason made a free throw with 2.9 seconds to tie the score at 54 after three quarters, setting up the fantastic finish.
“This right here, it’s my first one of these,” Selden said of the gold medal around his neck. “We are really happy about these and we’re going to cherish this moment.”
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