Kansas University sophomore guard Tyshawn Taylor scored nine points, dished three assists with three steals and three rebounds in the United States’ 81-77 victory over Croatia in the semifinals of the FIBA Under 19 World Championships on Saturday.
The U.S. (8-0), which last won gold in this event in 1991, will meet Greece (6-2) in the gold medal game today. Greece advanced to the gold medal contest after posting a shocking 84-69 victory over previously unbeaten Australia. The gold medal game is a rematch between the two teams. The U.S. claimed an 85-69 victory over the Greeks in second round play on Monday.
Taylor, who hit two of seven shots and five of seven free throws, is third on the team in scoring at 9.7 points a game. He leads the USA squad with 29 assists through seven contests despite missing one game because of the flu.
Butler’s Gordan Hayward led the way with 15 points and eight rebounds. Pitt’s Ashton Gibbs had 11 points, while Duke’s Seth Curry and Mississippi’s Terrico White had 10 apiece.
The U.S. led by as many as 16 points in the first half, but trailed 59-57 heading into the fourth quarter. It was 70-70 with 3:14 to play.
KU’s Taylor hit one of two free throws with 1:45 left, giving the U.S. a 75-72 lead.
Leading 77-75 with 42 ticks left, the U.S. worked the clock down. White’s rushed shot was wide of the rim. As it bounded over the endline, Hayward flung the ball back to Taylor, who heaved a long three that hit the rim just a fraction before shot clock was to expire. Northwestern’s John Shurna 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. Hayward hit two free throws at 14.6 seconds to make it 79-75.
Croatia's Toni Prostran hit a layup, cutting the gap to 79-77 at 10.1 seconds. Gibbs, who was fouled on the inbounds, hit two free throws at 9.4 seconds to make it 81-77. Croatia missed a pair of threes in the closing seconds.
Now comes the rematch against Greece.
“Guarding them. They shoot the ball well,” coach Jamie Dixon said of the key to winning again. “We’ve got to defend. We'll get good shots. Our offense is good when we get it moving, but we've got to do it for 40 minutes. We got a little stationary there tonight, but we'll get better movement, better passing. Our passing the first half was tremendous.”