AUCKLAND, New Zealand — The United States broke an 18-year gold medal drought by beating Greece 88-80 on Sunday to win the FIBA under-19 world basketball championships.
Kansas' Tyshawn Taylor had 18 points and five steals to lead the United States to its first victory at the world junior tournament since it claimed the gold medal in Canada in 1991.
"It was a tough game. Greece played their hearts out but I think in the end we wanted it more," Taylor said. "They did what we expected, made a lot of big shots, but we managed to tough it out.
"When we played Croatia (in the semifinals) they made a big run at us in the third quarter, as Greece did, but we managed to hold on, and the same thing happened tonight."
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University of Kentucky and Mason County product Darius Miller was perfect from the field and the free-throw line, making both field goal attempts and all four of his free throws for eight points. He also had three steals. Miller averaged 5.0 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists for the tournament.
Butler and Bryan Station High School star Shelvin Mack was also 4-for-4 from the line and scored four points. Mack, the U.S. captain, averaged 5.9 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists.
The game was tied at 19-all after the first quarter, but the United States pulled away with an outstanding defensive performance in the second period, outscoring Greece 27-11 to lead 46-30 at halftime.
Greece got within 60-51 at the end of the third quarter. Three-pointers from Klay Thompson of Washington State and Ashton Gibbs of Pittsburgh allowed the Americans to maintain their cushion in the final period.
Gibbs finished with 13 points and Thompson scored 10. Arnett Moultrie of UTEP had 10 points and nine rebounds.
The United States showed off its depth, winning even though leading scorer Gordon Hayward of Butler didn't score a point.
Kostas Sloukas had 17 points, four assists and four steals for Greece.
Croatia beat Australia 87-81 to claim the bronze medal.