United States Suffers One-Point Loss to Puerto Rico at Pan American Games

Aug. 3, 2003

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic - In its second wild ride in as many nights, the 2003 USA Basketball Men's Pan American Games Team (1-1)saw an Andre Barrett (Seton Hall / Bronx, N.Y.) baseline jumper rim out after the horn sounded to find itself on the short end of an 86-85 score against Puerto Rico (2-0) at the J.P. Duarte Center in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Sunday evening.

The loss drops the United States to 1-1 in the tournament and makes Monday's match-up with Uruguay (1-1) a must-win to keep medal hopes alive for the young American team. The Uruguay team hit Argentina (0-2), a pre-tournament favorite, with its second upset in as many nights with an 84-81 win earlier Sunday. The USA and Uruguay meet Monday afternoon at 3 p.m. ET.

Cardinal junior All-America candidate Josh Childress played only one minute against Puerto Rico and grabbed one rebound. Childress played six minutes and grabbed four rebounds in the U.S. 80-79 victory over Argentina in the opening round game on Saturday.

'We were trying to get into our offense,'said Barrett of the final play. 'They were denying the entry pass, so I had go to the basket. I got a good look, I just missed the shot.'

'That was not the shot that cost us the game,' said head coach Tom Izzo (Michigan State University). 'We didn't do the little things late in the fourth quarter, like getting to loose balls and blocking out. Puerto Rico turned it up defensively. Our guys played hard, but I think we got tired. We got into foul trouble. We had two key turnovers that turned into three-point plays, and that shifted the momentum. Puerto Rico turned up the intensity and pressure. We just did not respond.'

Puerto Rico's big man, David Santiago of the Milwaukee Bucks, went to the bench with his third personal foul at 9:37 in the third period and the USA leading 50-45. The Americans then began to work inside, using two baskets from Arthur Johnson (Missouri / Detroit, Mich.) and a three-point play by Barrett to build its largest lead of the game, 64-55, with 3:46 left in the third quarter. That's when Santiago's replacement, Sharif Fajardo, and Carlos Arroyo of the Utah Jazz went to work, combining to build a 13-4 run to tie the score at 68 by the end of the period.

The fourth quarter saw Arroyo contribute six points and Fajardo a 3-point goal in another 13-4 run that put Puerto Rico up by nine, 81-72, with 6:28 remaining. The USA continued to push the ball down low and cobbled together an answering run behind scoring in the paint from Brandon Mouton (Texas / Lafayette, La.), a pair of buckets from Ben Gordon (Connecticut / Mt. Vernon, N.Y.), Chuck Hayes (Kentucky / Modesto, Calif.) and Emeka Okafor (Connecticut / Houston, Texas) to close to within one, 83-82, with 2:59 left in the game. The final USA basket in that run came on an Okafor hook shot over Santiago, who had returned to the game just as the USA began its final run.

Okafor fouled out of the game trying to keep Santiago from the basket with 2:05 showing. Santiago hit one of the two free throws awarded then, and Fajardo was credited with a basket due to cylinder interference with 1:16 left to make the score 86-82. Mouton scored the final three USA points on a free throw at 1:02, then a basket underneath at the end of a wild scramble with 18 seconds left. Two missed free throws by Dalmau with 16 seconds left set the stage for the thrilling finish, which found Barrett with the ball along the left baseline for a good look from 18 feet. The shot rimmed out after the horn expired, keeping Puerto Rico undefeated in two games and evening the USA's mark at 1-1.

'It's disappointing when we were up nine, then turn around and lose,' stated Izzo. 'We had a lead last night as well, and we were able to hold on at the end. On the bright side, we're getting experience in close games.

'A couple of good things came out of tonight,' Izzo added. 'I thought when the ball went inside, we scored well. Mouton played a lot of minutes with Rickey (Paulding) out. I thought Andre shot well and did a great job in transition. You can't afford to have let-downs when you're playing for a championship. Tomorrow will be huge for us.'

The USA was led in scoring by Barrett's 16 points, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range. Johnson contributed 15 points and eight rebounds, which was team high. Okafor had 11 points in only 13 minutes of play, while Ike Diogu (Arizona State / Garland, Texas) had 10 points. Arroyo led all scorers with 24, while Fajardo and Santiago scored 19 and 12 points, respectively.

2003 Pan American Games USA Basketball Men's Notes and Quotes
USA vs. Puerto Rico, Aug. 3, 2003

USA head coach Tom Izzo (Michigan State University) on the game tonight:'Puerto Rico turned it up defensively. Our guys played hard, but I think we got tired. We got into foul trouble. We had two key turnovers that turned into three-point plays, and that shifted the momentum. Puerto Rico turned up the intensity and pressure. We just did not respond. It's disappointing when we were up nine, then turn around and lose. We had a lead last night as well, and we were able to hold on at the end. On the bright side, we're getting experience in close games.'

On the last shot:'That was not the shot that cost us the game. We didn't do the little things late in the fourth quarter, like getting to loose balls and blocking out.'

'A couple of good things came out of tonight. I thought when the ball went inside, we scored well. Mouton played a lot of minutes. I thought Andre shot well and did a great job in transition. You can't afford to have let-downs when you're playing for a championship. Tomorrow will be huge for us.'

Ike Diogu (Arizona State) on what he's learned so far about the international game:'You must play a lot more physical because you're going against grown men who know how to play.'

On his play so far:'Whenever coach calls my number I'm ready to play. I have a lot of confidence on the low block, and I'm always ready to get it and go.

Arthur Johnson (Missouri)'Puerto Rico cranked up the intensity at both ends of the floor and got back in the game. Down the stretch, they made winning plays.'

Andre Barrett (Seton Hall) on his last shot:'We were trying to get into our offense. They were denying the entry pass, so I had go to the basket. I got a good look, I just missed the shot.'

Brandon Mouton (Texas)'We must toughen up defensively. When we got up nine (64-55), we stopped being aggressive and let Puerto Rico back in. We have to come out blazing tomorrow.'

USA TEAM NOTES

Do the MathAn oddity of the scoreboard at the J.P. Duarte Center shows up when a player's foul is reported. To figure out who the foul was called on, spectators have to add three to the jersey number that's flashed. For example, if Ekema Okafor (No. 15) is called for a foul, the number 12 will be displayed on the scoreboard.

Free Throw Fizzle, Field Goal FeastThe charity stripe has not been productive for Team USA in the first two games of the tournament. Against Argentina, the Americans hit half their shots (12-of-24), and only slightly improved their percentage against Puerto Rico, canning 11-of-20 (55 percent) for a tournament total of 23-of-44 (52.3 percent). In contrast, Team USA has hit 65-of-124 from the field in the two games, good for 52.4 percent.

Was It A Phone Booth?Puerto Rico's Sharif Fajardo did not play in the first half of the game, but emerged as the difference in the second half, scoring all 19 of his points in the final 20 minutes. The reason Fajardo was fashionably late? He'd left his uniform at the team hotel. By the time support personnel were able to get to the Hotel Lina, located three blocks from the Duarte Center, and return with the proper equipment the first half was over, setting the scene for Fajardo's superhero-like entrance.

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