USA Holds Off Late Puerto Rico Comeback, Improves To 4-0 In Qualifer Play

By Alex Busch | February 27, 2018

Behind a suffocating perimeter defense that held the opposition to 14 percent shooting from 3-point range, USA Basketball improved to 4-0 in FIBA World Cup Qualifiers and clinched a spot in the second round on Monday with an 83-75 victory over Puerto Rico at Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz, Calif.

All 11 Americans that saw the floor contributed to scoring, including three players that reached double figures to start the offense. Reno Bighorns’ Aaron Harrison led the attack with 16 points with four 3-pointers, while Sioux Falls Skyforce’s Larry Drew II (14 points, seven assists, five rebounds) and Lakeland Magic’s Rodney Purvis (12 points) paced USA’s offense.

USA jumped out of the gate with a 15-0 advantage before Puerto Rico got on the board with 5:25 left in the first quarter. That was all the Americans would need as its stifling defense held Puerto Rico to only 24 second half points en route to its second-straight win by more than 30 points.