HERAKLION, Greece – Oklahoma State’s Isaac Likekele scored nine points and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds to help USA Basketball take down Mali, 93-79, and win gold Sunday at the FIBA U19 World Cup.
Likekele is the fourth Cowboy to win a gold medal at the FIBA U19 World Cup, joining Matt Clark (1979), Marcus Smart (2013) and Jawun Evans (2015). Oklahoma State representatives have now combined for 23 gold medals in international competitions with USA Basketball.
USA Basketball claimed its seventh FIBA U19 World Cup title since the event was first contested in 1979. No other country has more than one FIBA U19 championship.
On top of the near double-double, Likekele dished out two assists and was a plus-15 in 21:27 of action.
The OSU sophomore averaged 8.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.1 assist and 1.7 steals per game over the course of the event. USA Basketball was plus-88 (+12.6 per game) when Likekele was on the floor.
After scoring the game’s opening three points, the Americans (7-0) found themselves in their largest deficit of the tournament, an 11-3 hole. That’s when USA coach Bruce Weber turned to Likekele, who immediately scored a put-back bucket to end the Mali (5-2) run.
Likekele’s defensive presence and rebounding helped the Americans gain traction in the game and the Cowboy gave the USA back the lead, 17-16, with a 10-foot runner. The Americans opened the third quarter with a 12-0 run and never looked back.
Cade Cunningham led the USA scoring efforts with 21 points, while Iowa State standout Tyrese Haliburton posted a game-high eight assists.
Haliburton and Mississippi State forward Reginald Perry both earned a spot on the all-tournament team, and Perry was named the FIBA World Cup MVP.
– OSU Athletics