TAIPEI – Lithuania dominated the offensive glass in the second half and limited Purdue’s outside shooters to hand the USA an 85-74 setback in the World University Games gold-medal game in front of a jam-packed Taipei Arena crowd on Tuesday.
“They were just quicker to the ball than us in the second half. We gave up way too many second-chances and we didn’t shoot the ball great,” USA head coach Matt Painter said. “You can still win games when you don’t shoot the ball well, but we didn’t do the things we needed to do to win a game like that. You have to tip your hat to Lithuania. They just played really hard.”
“Lithuania played really hard and they just really made us pay for our mistakes,” senior forward Vincent Edwards said. “We got them to take tough shots, but we just couldn’t finish the job and that’s disappointing. It’s really just a sickening feeling right now.”
Purdue trailed for most of the first quarter against Lithuania, one of the top international teams in the world, but would take a 36-29 lead late in the second quarter on a Dakota Mathias 3-pointer. However, Lithuania outscored Purdue 7-2 down the stretch to trail just 38-36 heading into the locker room.
“I thought we should have been in a better position at halftime. We were up two and I thought we should have been up six or eight points. That’s a big difference in a game like this,” Painter said.
Lithuania would take the lead for good early in the third quarter and Purdue would get no closer than three points during the final 15 minutes of the game. Trailing 76-69 with just over two minutes left, Lithuania scored back-to-back baskets off offensive rebounds following Purdue turnovers, essentially salting the game away.
The American squad entered the game shooting almost 45 percent from deep, but Lithuania was intent on pressuring Purdue’s shooters off the line, forcing contested jumpers in the lane.
Lithuania outrebounded the USA 44-32, and turned 17 offensive rebounds into 20 second-chance points. Purdue had just nine second-chance points, accounting for the difference in the final margin.