Canada beats U.S. in OT, will play for basketball gold
Jamal Murray leads Canadians down the stretch
Canada will go for men's basketball gold at the Pan American Games after defeating the United States 111-108 in an overtime thriller Friday.
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The Canadians, who have never finished better than fourth at the Games, needed a rousing fourth-quarter comeback and overtime charge to dispose of the Americans.
They will be hoping to join the Canadian women atop the Pan Am medal podium.
BREAKING: Canada beats the USA 111-108, advance to the gold medal game. Here is every OT bucket <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CBCPanAm?src=hash">#CBCPanAm</a> <a href="http://t.co/3h3jzmbqNe">http://t.co/3h3jzmbqNe</a>—@cbcsports
The gold medal game will be televised live on CBC TV, as well as cbc.ca/panam and the CBC Sports app, at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Canada will play Brazil, which downed the Dominican Republic 68-62 in the earlier semifinal. Both finalists are 4-0.
The game went to overtime at 97-97 after Canadian Jamal Murray's last-ditch shot missed.
Murray lights it up
The U.S. led 97-94 with 50 seconds remaining thanks to a Bobby Brown bucket. Murray, an 18-year-old Kentucky recruit, calmly sank a three-pointer to tie the game and the Canadian defence stopped the U.S. in their tracks.
Murray had eight points in overtime to seal the deal. Brown missed a three-pointer at the buzzer to tie the game.
It was a roller-coaster game that saw the Americans pull ahead in the third to lead 80-74 going into the final quarter.
But Canada clawed its way back with an 11-2 run that saw Murray scored nine points, much to the delight of the raucous crowd at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.
An Anthony Bennett dunk put Canada ahead 92-91 with less than three minutes remaining. A Bennett block at other end also helped. But the Americans wouldn't go away.
Andrew Nicholson led Canada with 31 points.
Brown led the U.S. with 25 points while Anthony Randolph added 21.
Nicholson was a force in the first half and scored seven of Canada's first eight points in the second half. But the Americans erased a five-point halftime deficit and reeled off an 11-3 run fuelled by three straight three-pointers by Denzel Valentine to lead by seven.
The U.S. leads the Pan Am all-time men's basketball standings with eight gold, three silver and two bronze but has not won the competition since 1983. Canada's previous best finish was fourth in 1983.
Coached by Gonzaga's Mark Few, the 2015 American team features Sacramento Kings centre Ryan Hollins, four players at overseas clubs plus seven collegiate players.
Overseas pros Brown, Damien Wilkins and Randolph all have NBA experience.
Nicholson (Orlando), Bennett (Minnesota) and Sim Bhullar (Sacramento) are the only three players with NBA experience on Canada's roster.
Canada led 52-47 after a first half that saw Nicholson score 16 points and pull down seven rebounds. The Americans were outrebounded 26-14.
A third foul midway through the third sent Bennett back to the bench, leaving Nicholson to carry the load.
The U.S. finished runner-up in Pool A, handily beating Venezuela and Puerto Rico before losing 93-83 to Brazil on Thursday night. Canada eased through Pool B, dispatching the Dominican Republic, Argentina and Mexico.
The U.S. is ranked No. 1 in the world by FIBA while Canada is No. 25. But those numbers mean little here given countries are not fielding their top squads.