U.S. Basketball Takes Sixth Title
U.S. Basketball Takes Sixth Title
Jul. 12, 1999
PALMA DE MALLORCA, Balearic Islands (AP) _ After a close call in the semifinals, the U.S. men's basketball team wrapped up its sixth straight World University Games gold medal and 40th straight win _ both records _ by routing Yugoslavia 79-65 Monday night.
The U.S. women's team, playing without two starters, was upset by host Spain 57-48 in the final.
Cincinnati's Kenyon Martin led the U.S. men with 21 points, several coming off dunks against the outsized and outclassed Yugoslavs.
Forward Mladen Sekularac, the only member of the Yugoslavian team who plays in the country's first division, had a game-high 31 points in the men's final.
``They kept running plays for him, isolating him. That hurt their team. When we locked them down defensively, the game was pretty much over,'' said U.S. head coach Oliver Purnell, an assistant on the 1995 University Games squad that featured recent NBA Finals MVP Tim Duncan and league scoring-leader Allen Iverson.
The current crop of college stars _ five of the 12 team members have NCAA Final Four experience _ struggled. The opener against South Korea was tight early in the second half, Canada led at halftime in their quarterfinal matchup, and Saturday's semifinal against Spain was a two-point game with 20 seconds to go.
``We invented the game, so our guys certainly expected to get the gold. But it wasn't easy,'' said Purnell, who coaches at Dayton.
``Everybody tried to play their `A' game against us, and the international game is more physical than what we're used to,'' said Kevin Freeman, a member of Connecticut's NCAA championship team. ``But we stayed focused, because we didn't want to be the U.S. team that didn't bring home the gold.''
The U.S. women shot just 27 percent from the field, including 1-of-12 from 3-point range in front of a hostile crowd at muggy Son Moix arena.
Rosaura Sanchez led Spain with 14 points, and Nieves Llamas added 13. Spain had not participated in the University Games since taking its only previous medal _ a silver _ in 1991.
``The ball wasn't falling for us, and we kind of put out heads down,'' said guard Katie Douglas, who led the U.S. with 14 points. ``If you're not doing well on offense, you have to dig in on defense. We didn't. We let them dictate things all game.''
Douglas is one of two U.S. players from NCAA champion Purdue University. The other, Camille Cooper, missed the gold medal game with the flu.
Russia won the women's bronze with a 77-71 victory over Ukraine.
In other action on the penultimate day of this Olympics-style event, Romania's Lonela Tirlea ran the year's fastest time for the women's 400 meters, and set a new University Games record in the process.
Tirlea, European champion in the 400 hurdles, clocked 49.98 seconds to win easily. Mikele Barber of the United States edged Nigeria's Doris Jacob to take the silver with a time of 51.03. The Romanian was supposed to compete in the hurdles here, but said she didn't arrive in time.
Other winners in track and field events included Yulia Taranova of Russia in the women's 800 meters, Jerome Davis of the United States in the men's 400, and Cuba's Raul Duany in the decathlon.
In judo, South Korea won the men's team event and France claimed the women's title.
In the soccer final, Fernando Soriano scored the go-ahead goal in the 110th minute of play to give Spain a 2-1 victory over Italy. Brazil beat South Korea 5-4 on penalty kicks after supplemental time ended with the countries tied 2-2 to take the soccer bronze medal.
Spain beat Italy 6-5 in water polo, where the United States took the bronze by defeating Hungary 13-7.