Washington leads USA U19 team past Mali to advance in World Tournament


Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari directs his team against the UCLA Bruins during the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament South Regional Sweet 16 at FedExForum in Memphis, TN on Friday March 24, 2017. Photo by Michael Reaves | Staff

Chase Campbell

On Wednesday, the undefeated USA U19 basketball team, coached by John Calipari, defeated Mali in their first round of tournament play, dominating them 117-69.

The Wildcats on the team didn’t disappoint as P.J. Washington and Hamidou Diallo both scored in double digits while shooting over 50 percent. Washington led Team USA in scoring for the second straight game with 20 points, while Diallo poured in 14 points of his own. Washington also filled up the stat sheet with eight rebounds, three assists and a block.

The Americans got off to a hot start, outscoring Mali 30-10 in the first quarter. Diallo got off to a hot start, scoring four of Team USA’s first six points, including a putback basket after retrieving his own rebound.

The Americans struggled in the second quarter, as it was the only quarter in which Mali outscored Team USA. Mali held the Americans to only 20 points, one of their lowest scoring quarters as a team.

Team USA also found it tough to break away any farther from Mali in the third quarter, only outscoring them by six points.

All game, Team USA struggled shooting outside the arc as well as taking care of the ball, and both issues came to a head in the third quarter, as the Americans committed four turnovers and missed five three-point shots in the quarter.

Washington struggled especially in taking care of the ball, as he led the Americans with five turnovers on the game. He also had difficulty making free throws, making only two of his seven attempts at the line. There is still plenty of room for improvement, as Calipari has emphasized through this tournament that the Americans must continue to play against themselves to get better.

In the fourth quarter, the game was all one-way traffic as Team USA put up their highest scoring quarter of the game, getting 41 while allowing Mali to score only 18, fueled largely by Team USA’s explosive 14-5 run to close out the game.

Team USA advances now to the round of eight, where they await the winner of New Zealand and Germany’s game on Friday. If New Zealand defeats Germany, Cats forward Tai Wynyard will represent the New Zealand team as he’ll take on his coach and two teammates on Team USA.