NOVI SAD, SERBIA -- David Lighty (Ohio State / Cleveland, Ohio) and Deon Thompson (North Carolina / Torrance, Calif.) combined for 36 points as the 2007 USA Basketball U19 World Championship Team (4-0) opened up second round play with a 90-81 victory over Lithuania (1-3) at the 2007 FIBA U19 World Championship on Monday night in Novi Sad, Serbia.
The U.S. continues second round play against Brazil (2-2) on July 17 (2:30 p.m. EDT) and second round play ends with a game against France (4-0) on July 18 (2:30 p.m. EDT). The quarterfinals are slated to be played July 20, semifinals on July 21 and the gold medal will be contested on July 22.
"We came out really flat and they did some things that really bothered us, but we made some adjustments at the half," said USA and DePaul University head coach Jerry Wainwright. "We really, obviously directed our attack right inside at David Lighty and Deon Thompson, they were terrific. But I thought the thing that really, from the second quarter on, Jonny Flynn (Niagara Falls H.S. / Niagara Falls, N.Y.) and Tajuan Porter (Oregon / Detroit, Mich.) did an excellent job of containing their point guard. He kind of shredded us in the first quarter. It’s kind of one of those things with different guys on different nights. Hopefully the guys who didn’t play well will bounce back."
After battling the first quarter against a deliberate and very determined Lithuanian squad, the U.S. trailed 19-18 at the end of the first. However, that would be the final lead for Lithuania. Flynn opened the second with a pair of free throws to give the USA a lead it would never give up. By the end of the first half, which saw 15 Lithuanian turnovers and 16 U.S. steals, the USA was up 45-39.
Patrick Beverley (Arkansas / Chicago, Ill.) hit a pair of threes and had eight points, while Thompson contributed six points in a 20-6 USA run that opened the second half and broke the game wide open, 65-45, with 15:30 to go. Lithuania drained a trio of treys in a 9-2 spurt in an attempt to close the gap, but Beverly countered with two of his own from afar and by the end of the third quarter the USA still held a comfortable 73-57 advantage. DeAndre Jordan (Bellaire Episcopal H.S. / Humble, Texas) kicked off the fourth quarter on his own
6-3 run and the U.S. at 8:25 was ahead 79-60. By the 2:57 mark the U.S. was on top 89-71. However, the USA’s defense slacked off, allowing Lithuania to close the game with a 10-1 run for the final 90-81 score.
Lighty led the pack with 19 points, Thompson finished with 17, while Beverly notched 14 points, passed out four assists and had seven of the team’s 26 steals, four shy of the USA’s record at this event. Flynn finished with eight points and five steals.
"I guess I came out ready to play," said Lighty, who shot a perfect 6-of-6 from the field, 2-of-2 from
3-point and 1-of-1 from the line. "I felt good in warm-ups. I started early on the inside, trying to get to the basket as much as possible. That loosened up the defense a little bit and I got some wide-open shots in the third and fourth quarter."
Deividas Gailius was Lithuania’s top scorer with 19 points, while Lukas Brazdauskis scored 13.
Lithuania won the rebounding edge by one, 32-31.
In other Group E second round play, host Serbia (3-1) beat Brazil (2-2) 87-75, and France (4-0) defeated
China (1-3) 106-57 . In Group F, Spain (4-0) upended Canada (1-3) 83-69, Australia (4-0) took care of South Korea (1-3) 135-79 and Argentina (3-1) nicked Turkey (2-2) 68-59.
Lebanon (1-3) collected its first win with a 76-56 victory over Mali (0-4) and Nigeria (1-3) downed Puerto Rico (0-4) 97-77 in classification semifinal action.
Wainwright, who served as an assistant for the 2006 USA U18 National Team, is heading up the 2007 USA U19 World Championship Team coaching staff, and collegiate head coaches Bruiser Flint of Drexel University (Pa.) and George Washington University’s (D.C.) Karl Hobbs are serving as assistant coaches.