SAITAMA, Japan -- Duke's Chris Duhon and Troy Bell of Boston College combined for 11 3-pointers Sunday to lead the United States to an 89-80 victory over Croatia in the championship game of the World Basketball Championship for Young Men.
Bell scored 24 points, including six 3-pointers, and Duhon was 5-for-12 from downtown in a 19-point, 14-assist effort as the U.S. finished the 12-nation tournament with an 8-0 record. Bell set a Team USA single-game record with his six 3-pointers, while Duhon broke the single-game assist record he set in Saturday's semifinal.
"It was a great game," Duhon said. "Croatia gave us everything we could handle. They made some unbelievable shots and fought us all the way to the end."
Former Juneau-Douglas High School star Carlos Boozer of Duke was held to six points Sunday, one day after scoring a Team USA single-game record 29 points in a 95-90 semifinal victory over Argentina in the semifinals. Even with the lower scoring output, Boozer still grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out two assists on Sunday.
Boozer was Team USA's top scorer and rebounder for the tournament with 15.9 points a game and 8.0 rebounds. The only other U.S. players to average in double-figure scoring were Duhon and Bell with 11.9 points each and Butler with 10.6 points a game. Nine of the 12 Americans averaged at least 7.0 points a game, and no player averaged fewer than 4.8 points a game in Team USA's balanced offense. Boozer either led Team USA or tied for the team lead four times in each category, plus he shot .663 from the field (53 for 80).
"Carlos really expended a lot of energy yesterday and really went all out," U.S. coach Jim Boeheim of Syracuse said. "But he rebounded for us and he was very good defensively for us. He made a big steal against their best player that was an almost unbelievable steal."
"We have one of those teams that the scoring can come from anywhere, so you just have to keep the other things going like defense and rebounds," Boozer said. "And I wanted to help the team by stopping them (Croatia) and getting rebounds. Troy and Chris were having great offensive games today, and we all contributed."
Nick Collison of Kansas and Caron Butler of Connecticut both scored 15 points and grabbed four rebounds, with Butler adding three steals and Collison three assists for Team USA.
Croatia led 47-42 at the half, getting three 3-pointers from Mario Stojic and clutch baskets under the net from 7-foot center Bruno Sundov, who scored 14 points in the first half and 23 for the game. Croatia took a 45-33 lead with 2:32 left in the first half and was threatening to break the game open when Duhon sank a 3-pointer and Bell added a pair to help the Americans close the gap.
"It was by far our best performance," Boeheim said. "They were the first team that put us in a hole. Croatia played an almost perfect first half and we were very, very fortunate to be within five points at halftime."
"This feels great," Boozer said after Team USA's victory celebration. "We started this back some 21 days ago, we worked hard, we did two-a-days in two different cities, and we came out here as a group and came together. All the hard work paid off and it's a great feeling."
The victory marks the second time in the history of the U21 tournament that the United States has claimed the gold medal. The U.S. won the inaugural tournament in 1993 in Spain, but took fifth place in 1997 in Australia. For Boozer and Duhon, the gold medal complements the NCAA championship they won in April with Duke.
"Yeah, it's been great," Boozer said. "I've been able to win a Final Fouor and winning a gold medal is a great accomplishment. I'm looking forward to doing it again."