July 15, 2013
KAZAN, Russia - Australia overcame yet another double-digit, second-half deficit Monday, to defeat Serbia 65-62 in the semifinals of the World University Games. The Emerging Boomers trailed by as many as 18, and were down 14 with 12:20 left in the game but rallied to knock off the two-time defending gold medalists.
Australia will face tournament host Russia in the championship game Tuesday, at 11:30 a.m. (MT), in a game streamed live on ESPN3. It is the Boomers’ first trip to the title game at the World University Games and comes on the heels of a 15th-place finish in 2011, the last edition of the tournament.
Boise State rising junior Igor Hadziomerovic logged 21 minutes in the win. Hadziomerovic scored two points, grabbed three rebounds, doled out one assist and picked up a steal in the most time he has seen on the floor at the tournament. The Bronco was a factor in the decisive fourth quarter, creating for his teammates on one end and defending all the way to the last possession on the other.
Early on Australia led 6-4 as the first four minutes of the game got off to a slow start. The rest of the first quarter saw the Aussie offense come to a complete halt. They were blanked over the final 6:19 of the period, while Serbia scored 20 unanswered points to take control at the first break with a 24-6 lead.
The half-court offense for the Boomers came to life in the early stages of the second quarter. Australia scored four field goals in the first five minutes to power a brief 8-2 run. The spurt, closed out by Hadziomerovic’s lone basket of the day, brought Australia back within a dozen at 26-14.
Serbia scored at the 4:39 mark before the teams grinded their way to halftime. After Serbia’s basket, the teams settled for two field goals apiece while the Australians knocked down two free throws to the Europeans’ five. Serbia owned a 37-21 advantage as the teams headed for the locker rooms.
Another slow start to a period meant six minutes into the second half the margin was still 16 with Serbia ahead 41-25. The teams traded baskets for the next 90 seconds but down 14 with 2:20 left, Australia mustered more of the late-game magic they’ve used all tournament long.
The Green and Gold scored 13 points in 108 seconds, mounting a 13-5 run and trimming the deficit all the way to six at 48-42 as the quarter buzzer sounded.
Australia did not let the timeout put the brakes on its momentum, starting the half with a bucket and adding four three-pointers around a pair of Serbia free throws. The stretch extended the run to 27-7 in less than seven minutes after it took Australia more than 26 minutes to score its first 27 points. The fourth triple of the run came on an assist from Hadziomerovic and gave Australia a six-point lead, its biggest of the game.
Serbia scored the next eight points to take the lead back at 58-56 with 2:27 left on the clock. Then New Mexico forward Cameron Bairstow put Australia over the top. Bairstow tied the game down low, assisted on a go-ahead three-pointer and hit two free throws in the final 30 seconds. His last free throw came with 13 seconds left and put Australia ahead by three. The Aussies held defensively and clung to the 65-62 win.
During the Boomers’ four-game win streak they have overcome fourth-quarter deficits in a pool-play victory against the United States and the quarterfinals and semifinals.