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July 9, 1999

From Release on USABasketball.com.

CALVIA, Spain – In a game it needed to win to secure the top seed from its pool play group, the 1999 USA Basketball Men’s World University Games Team (5-0) roared to an impressive 91-74 victory against Greece (3-2) and its small but vocal contingent of fans here Thursday night. Greece is now eliminated from medal contention, while the Americans will take on Canada (3-1) in the medal round quarterfinals at 8 p.m. (2 p.m. EDT) Saturday night in Calvia, Spain. Canada’s 85-55 victory against the Netherlands (2-2) Thursday night secured its position in the medal round quarterfinals.

“It was a very important game for us. The most important thing here is that this kept us undefeated and got us the No. 1 seed,” said USA head coach Oliver Purnell of the University of Dayton (Ohio). “Two games ago we had an excellent game against the Czech Republic and we still haven’t got back to that. But this was definitely better than the game we played against Lithuania last night. It’s good to see us moving forward.”

The USA has now scored at least 90 points in each of its five contests at the ’99 World University Games, and has won all five games by at least nine points. The Americans are aiming for their sixth consecutive World University Games gold medal and their 12th gold medal in 16 World University Games appearances. Overall, the U.S. is 107-6 (.947) at the World University Games, and possesses a 37 game World University Games winning streak.

Thursday night’s victory was paced by the shooting of guard Matt Santangelo (Gonzaga / Portland, Ore.), who tallied a game high 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the floor and 5-of-6 shooting from three-point range. Santangelo converted each of his first six attempts from the field, and buried each of his first five three-point attempts. Santangelo now owns the U.S. single game record for three-point field goals made at the World University Games, breaking the previous record of four treys made, set eight different times and most recently by former University of Virginia star Curtis Staples against Canada in 1997.

“I had no idea that I did it but I think it’s great. It was more of a night when Greece went zone on us so early. It’s the first team we’ve seen that’s actually done that for any amount of time. But that’s what you’ve got to do to get them out of a zone, is hit shots. I was fortunate to make some tonight,” Santangelo said. “We didn’t play too well last night against Lithuania. We need to go into the medal round on a good note and I think we accomplished that tonight against a good team.”

After the USA spotted Greece an early 3-0 lead, the Americans charged back to take a 7-3 lead with 17:10 left in the opening half when Michael Redd (Ohio State / Columbus, Ohio) converted. While the Americans held the lead for the duration of the game, it was not until late in the half that they assembled a double digit lead. When Scoonie Penn (Ohio State / Salem, Mass.) completed a three-point play with 4:47 to play in the half, the U.S. owned a 40-26 lead and never saw its lead in jeopardy.

In the second half, the USA continued to roll, increasing its lead to 59-40 with 15:20 to play when Brendan Haywood (North Carolina / Greensboro, N.C.). However, Greece answered with a 7-0 run that trimmed the USA’s lead to 59-47 with 13:31 remaining. But Haywood completed a three-point play, Penn drove for two, and the Americans sailed from that point on.

“We’ve kind of let teams hang around with us here. Things are clicking from outside. We’ve got Matt Santangelo. Kenyon Martin (Cincinnati / Dallas, Texas) and I were doing a good job on the inside. We can definitely do a better job on the defensive end of the floor. We need to hold a lot of these teams to around 60 points. Greece only had one shooter, so we let them get a lot of their points on offensive rebounds and layups and we’ve got to cut that out,” Haywood said.

Santangelo led all scorers with his 19 point effort; Penn added 16 points (5-7 FGs), two assists and four steals; Haywood totaled 14 points (7-9 FGs) two blocked shots and a team high six rebounds; Chris Carrawell (Duke / St. Louis, Mo.) checked in with 12 points and four boards; and the team shot a sizzling 58.8 percent (10-17 FGs) from three-point range in the victory.

If the USA defeats Canada on Saturday, it will face either Spain or Brazil on Sunday at 8 p.m. (2 p.m. EDT) in the medal round semifinals, and the winner of that game will advance to the gold medal game while the loser of that contest will compete in the bronze medal game. Bronze and gold medal matches will be held Monday, July 12 at 8 p.m. (2 p.m. EDT) at San Moix Arena in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

-USA BASKETBALL-