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France holds off U.S. at Schweitzer tourney, 67-66

Kevin Ware of the United States gets stopped by France's Rudy Gorbert, left, and Yannis Morin.

MICHAEL ABRAMS / S&S

By RUSTY BRYAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 4, 2010

MANNHEIM, Germany – Yannis Morin swatted away Dillon Wadsack’s attempt at a game-winning 3-pointer as the final buzzer sounded Sunday night to preserve France’s 67-66 victory over the United States in a pool-play game at the 25th biennial Albert Schweitzer International Youth Basketball Tournament.

"I’ll think about the shot all night," Wadsack said after the game. "My old coach always told me to pump-fake on that shot and win the game on the free-throw line. I didn’t get to the line."

While his old coach might have had the right idea for most situations, Wadsack did the right thing Sunday night by eschewing the pump fake, simply because there was no time for it. Wadack caught an inbounds pass with 1.1 seconds on the clock and had he tried to fake, he might well have seen time run out before he got the shot off.

The Americans’ best bid to win the game came seconds earlier, when Aurora, Ill., star Ryan Boatright, who scored 21 points, wove his way impossibly through the lane only to see his off-balance layup tantalizingly hang on the rim before rolling off. The ball went out of bounds under the U.S. basket with 1.1 seconds to play and the U.S. was given possession.

On the inbounds play, Farooq Muhammad of Indianapolis zipped the ball to Wadsack on the right baseline for the potential catch-and-shoot game-winner, but Morin darted out for his game-saving block.

Wadsack, who has established a reputation as a clutch player in leading Ramstein to consecutive European Division I titles, was in the game as a replacement for Kevin Ware of Rockdale County (Ga.) High School. Ware fouled out with 1:05 left as he swished an apparent 3-pointer that would have put the Americans up 69-67. Instead, the officials waved the basket off, ruling that Ware had elbowed his defender out of the way on the play.

Ware’s disqualification came just 1:12 after future Kansas Jayhawk Royce Woolridge of Phoenix fouled out after scoring a team-high 22 points. Fourteen of those points came in the second half.

"It was a good game," Woolridge said as he applied ice to a sore lip he suffered in the bruising game. "France is a good team. You can tell they’ve been together a long time."

France, the 2006 champions of this event, trailed 61-55 with 8:01 to play. They then put together a 12-5 run the rest of the way, with Evan Fournier scoring eight of his game-high 28 points over that span. Half of France’s decisive 12 points came on six-of-eight shooting from the free-throw line, with two by Antonin Moynet with 1:40 to go cutting the French deficit to 66-64. Thomas Ceci’s three-ball with 40 seconds to go put the French ahead to stay.

Altogether, France went to the line 34 times to just 21 for the U.S. The U.S. front line of Chris Manhertz of New York City, Michael Chandler of Indianapolis and Marshall Plumlee an Indianan who attends high school in Asheville, N.C., all battled foul trouble all night.

"We had to go small," Krystkowiak said about trying to save his big men, "and that led to more fouls."

The loss left the Americans 1-1 going into Monday’s 8 p.m. pool-play finale against Argentina. The South Americans fell 82-81 Sunday to Croatia, the team the U.S. edged 71-69 on Saturday. France is to play Croatia on Monday, with the top two in the pool staying alive for medal contention.

Woolridge was optimistic Sunday about what amounts to a must-win game against the 0-2 Argentines.

"We’re playing a lot better as a team," he said. "We’re gradually getting better."


France 67, U.S.A. 66

(Pool play Sunday at Mannheim)

U.S.A. .......... 20 19 18 9—66
France ..........20 16 17 14—67

Scoring—U.S.A.: Royce Woolridge 22, Ryan Boatright 21, Damian Leonard 9, Kevin Ware 7, Marshall Plumlee 3, Michael Chandler 2, Dillon Wadsack 2; France: Evan Fournier 28, Mathis Kieta 12, Antonin Moynet 8, Thomas Ceci 7, Yannis Morin 5, Rudy Gobert 3, Kevin Mendy 2, Rudy Deal 2

Rebounding—U.S.A. 38 (13 offensive, 25 defensive), Plumlee 9, Ware 7, Chandler 7; France 45 (15 offensive, 30 defensive), Gobert 9. Free throws—U.S.A. 12-of-21; France 19-of-34. Field-goal percentage—U.S.A. 24-of-67, 36 percent; France 20-of-56, 34 percent. 3-point goals—U.S.A. 6-of-24 (Leonard 3-of-13, Boatright 2-of-6); France 8-of-21 (Fournier 4-of-7).


Royce Woolridge of the United States gets past a French defender on his way to making a basket in the Americans' 67-66 loss at the Albert Schweitzer basketball tournament in Mannheim, Germany, Sunday night.
MICHAEL ABRAMS / S&S