CAIRO — Shenendehowa High School graduate and University of Maryland’s Kevin Huerter sparked a comeback as Team USA overcame a tough start to beat Italy 98-65 Tuesday in the final Pool D preliminary-round game of the U19 Basketball World Cup in Cairo, Egypt.
Both teams were 2-0 heading into the game. Italy went on a 10-0 run to take a 15-13 lead with 3:40 to play in the first quarter.
Huerter tipped in an offensive rebound to tie the score 15-15, but Italy made its fourth 3 of the quarter to grab an 18-15 lead with 2:45 remaining in the quarter. While refocusing on defense, Huerter continued to provide an offensive spark and drained a 3 to tie the score. Then on the next possession, he made one of two free throws as the USA closed the quarter with a 12-3 run to open a 27-21 lead.
Team USA had a 53-39 lead at halftime, then took control of the game in the third quarter, outscoring Italy 20-6 to take a 73-45 lead into the final period.
Team USA head coach John Calipari didn’t mind seeing his team face some adversity for the first time in the tournament.
“I like it,” Calipari said. “I wanted to see when you have a 10-0 lead, okay it’s time to get it to 18-2, 22-4. Next group goes in and gets it to 40. We weren’t ready for that. So, all of a sudden, we let another team come back and they’re in the game with a chance to beat you. Now it’s a long way away, but I was happy it happened.”
Huerter finished the game with eight points, four assists and two rebounds. He played 16:14.
Team USA advances to the medal round. It takes on Mali at 9:30 a.m. today.