Seton Hall star powers past Venezuela with 30 points as the US moves to 2-0 in Pan Am Games

By John Fanta

@John_Fanta

Lima, Peru- The world of college basketball has gotten to know Myles Powell well. Now, so does Venezuela, but they learned about him the hard way.

That’s because the rising Seton Hall senior star and National Player of the Year candidate put on an absolute show on Thursday night, treating a capacity crowd at Lima’s Dibos Coliseum to 30 points, 20 of which came in the second half. The Trenton native powered the Big East team representing the United States in the Pan American Games to a 70-53 win to give the Americans a 2-0 record. Having advanced to the medal rounds, this sets up a major showdown with Puerto Rico, also at an unbeaten 2-0 in the Pan American competition, on Friday (10 PM ET, ESPNU).

Just a five-point game at the half in favor of the Americans at 34-29, for the second straight contest, the United States found its separation in the third quarter. Trailing by just eight, Venezuela experienced one of Powell’s blink-of-the-eye outbursts firsthand. Powell began a 7-0 run, closing the third and opening the fourth with tough finishes at the rim sandwiched around a fast break three-pointer.

On a night when there were only nine triples combined, they felt like much more than just three. Powell accounted for three of the United States’ four trifectas.

Just when Venezuela crept back in and cut the lead to six with just six minutes to play, Powell put the dagger in them with yet another 7-0 run. As if the first wasn’t impressive enough, the Pirate star finished off the second with a four-point play after getting fouled on a three-point attempt.

That pushed the United States lead to 61-48 with five minutes on the clock, enough for Ed Cooley’s team to coast to another victory.

Three Thoughts:

1. The United States is going up against international programs with professionals in their respective countries, and teams that practice together far more than the 10 sessions Cooley had with the group in Providence. Cooley’s main concern was how the US could stack up on the glass, and the Americans have more than answered the bell. On Thursday, the US handled Venezuela on the glass, 40-29, giving them a +25 advantage in the rebounding department through two games. Villanova point guard Collin Gillespie of all players led the way with seven boards on Thursday, while former Creighton standout Geoffrey Groselle put up 11 points and six rebounds. It’s been a “by-committee” effort, and one that has worked.

2. Powell, Powell, Powell: He’s the story on this occasion, and will be to the joy of Seton Hall fans this upcoming college basketball season. His development has not halted, and the way in which the game comes to him is a spectacle that Lima got a front row seat for on Thursday.

3. On Deck: Puerto Rico lies ahead on Friday night, and they will provide the US its biggest test yet. In terms of comparing results, Puerto Rico beat Virgin Islands 101-89 on Thursday, while the Americans rolled to a 119-84 win on Wednesday over USVI. Puerto Rico grinded out a win over Venezuela in its opener, 73-64. Powell will go up against Isaac Sosa, who scored 25 in Puerto Rico’s win on Thursday. Sosa may be familiar to college basketball followers. The 6-foot-3 guard, who now plays pro ball in Croatia, spent 2008-11 at UCF before playing his final season in the MAAC for Canisius. He averaged nearly 12 points per game in his senior year with the Golden Griffins.

A win for the United States could prove to be huge, as the Americans would likely avoid frontrunner Argentina until a potential gold medal game. If it got to that point for Team USA, which has not won a gold in the Pan Am Games since Michael Jordan led them to one in 1983, that alone would be an accomplishment.

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