After winning each of its first three games at the World University Games in Kazan, Russia by double digits, the United States ran into significant resistance in the form of Australia on Thursday.
Armed with five players who have experience on Australia’s senior men’s national team, the Australians won by the final score of 93-84 with two names that should be familiar to college basketball fans sticking out.
Cameron Bairstow, who will be a senior at New Mexico next season, accounted for 22 points (11-for-18 FG), nine rebounds and five assists while Ryan Broekhoff (who just completed his career at Valparaiso) added 12 points and ten rebounds for Australia (3-1). Ultimately, however, it would be Jason Cadee who proved to be the difference for the Aussies.
Cadee scored 16 of his game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter, which helped Australia erase a five-point deficit (64-59) on their way to moving into a tie for second place in group play.
“We had the five-point lead as we entered the fourth quarter and then I think we just struggled defensively,” United States head coach Bob McKillop said. “We struggled to defend screens, we struggled to limit them to one shot, we struggled to contain penetration and the struggle on the defensive end carried forward on the offensive end where we rushed things too much because we became in a hurry to score rather than stay within the framework of the system.”
Creighton’s Doug McDermott led the Americans with 22 points, and Colorado’s Spencer Dinwiddie added 14. Also in double figures for the United States were Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell and Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick, who scored ten points apiece. Neither BYU’s Tyler Haws nor New Mexico’s Alex Kirk saw action in Thursday’s game.
Next up for coach McKillop’s team is their group finale against Canada (4-0) on Friday, with the United States needing a win by ten points or more to reach the medal round if there’s a three-way tie for first. If there’s a three-way tie, the recipients of the two medal round spots is determined by point differential in the games between the three teams.
Australia takes on the United Arab Emirates (the United States beat them 140-46 in the opener), so a three-way tie is likely a safe bet.
Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.