Team USA Tops U.S. Virgin Islands at Pan Am Games

USA earns second straight win with 84-58 victory

July 28, 2007

From USA Basketball

The USA Men's Pan American Games Team (2-2) continued its progression Saturday evening as it rolled to a second straight victory and easily defeated the U.S. Virgin Islands (1-3) 84-58. USA forward D.J. White (Indiana / Tuscaloosa, Ala.) continued his dominate play and posted game bests of 22 points and 13 rebounds.

"D.J.'s probably played the most minutes of anybody and he's been our go-to guy. When it's tough and we need a basket, we go to D.J. and he's made the right play every time. He's doing a good job on the defensive end, too. I'm really impressed with him," said USA and Villanova University head coach Jay Wright.

The 2007 Pan American Games basketball competition finishes up Sunday with finals. Brazil (4-0) will face Puerto Rico (3-1) in the gold medal game (10:00 a.m. EDT); Argentina (2-2) will square off versus Uruguay (2-2) in the bronze medal contest (7:45 a.m.); the United States and Panama (2-2) will play in the 5th/6th place game (12:30 p.m.);and Canada (0-4) will go against the U.S. Virgin Islands (1-3) in the 7th/8th place game (2:30 p.m. EDT).

Saturday's medal round semifinals play saw Puerto Rico hand Argentina (2-2) an 89-80 loss, while host Brazil bettered Uruguay 85-73. In the other consolation semifinal game, Panama rallied late to snatch a 68-67 win from Canada.

"I think they're really starting to learn how to play together and they're feeling good about playing with each other," said Wright. "We found our strength in the big guys. It's a shame it's a little bit late [in the tournament], but it's still fun for these guys. And it's fun to play against this Virgin Islands team who has played everybody tough, they had a chance to beat Brazil. Our guys really played well tonight. Our defense has really improved. It's just a matter of playing together and learning how to play at this level. And as I said, it's a shame it happened this late, but they're going to enjoy these last three games. We've got one more and we're excited to play together."

"We just did some things in the first two games that didn't help us. We didn't come together like we should. But I think in these past two games we came together as a team and really played," stated White, who over four games has averaged 17.5 ppg. and 9.3 rpg. for the U.S.

The U.S. Virgin Islands inched ahead 22-20 with 6:20 remaining before half as the USA's shooting just couldn't find the mark and the U.S. missed its first six shots of the second period.

The final 5:52 of the quarter was a different story as the Americans made eight of their last nine shots, two of three free throws, and committed just one turnover during an 18-6 scoring binge to grab a 38-28 halftime lead.

The inside duo of White and Roy Hibbert (Georgetown / Adelphi, Md.) scored 11 and seven points each in the first two quarters, as the USA pounded the ball inside for 24 points overall.

"Pounding the paint has been an emphasis since we've been here and we just didn't do a good job the first couple of games. When we did get it inside in the first couple of games, our big guys didn't do a good job. Now our guards are getting it to them in the right spots, they're making the right plays and I think that's what makes us a good team," offered Wright.

Holding on to a 51-39 lead and 4:19 left in the third quarter, the USA put the game away after ripping off 15 straight points to take charge 66-39. The USA's 15 point barrage was fueled by guard Derrick Low (Washington State / Honolulu, Hawaii) who contributed nine points, while White added four.

All 10 healthy U.S. players scored, with four reaching double figures. In addition to White's 22 points, Low finished with 14 points, Hibbert added 11 points and Shan Foster (Vanderbilt / Kenner, La.) tossed in 10 points.

The USA again controlled the glass, 48-to-35. The rebounding effort was aided by Joey Dorsey (Memphis / Baltimore, Md.) who hauled in nine boards and scored five points, while James Gist (Maryland / Silver Spring, Md.) snagged six rebounds to go with six points.

"I just tried to go out and play great defense and help my team out wherever we needed it - just try to play solid, get our big men the ball so they could make plays happen - and it worked out great for us," said Foster.

Wayne Ellington (North Carolina / Philadelphia, Pa.) missed a third straight game because of a sprained right shoulder, while Eric Maynor (Virginia Commonwealth / Fayetteville, N.C.) was unavailable to go for a second consecutive game because of a right hip-pointer.

"I think our guys are going to be fired up to play Panama. They have some guys that have played in the SEC, the ACC and the Atlantic-10 that our guys know. They took it to us in the first game. I think our guys are going to be fired for a chance to play them again and show ourselves how much we've improved," Wright said.

"We've got to do a better job guarding their perimeter guys. (Danilo) Pinnock really hurt us. We did a good job on (Jose) Lloreda, but Pinnock got away from us. We have to keep a bigger body on Pinnock. We had smaller guards on him and he really hurt us."

Wright is being assisted on the USA bench by University of Alabama head mentor Mark Gottfried and Yale University head coach James Jones.

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