Team USA, a team consisting solely of present and past players from the Big East Conference, including Villanova teammates Collin Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels, returned home Monday with a bronze medal in men’s basketball from the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.
Behind 25 points from Gillespie, a junior guard, the Americans defeated the Dominican Republic, 92-83, Sunday night in the bronze-medal game, the team’s fifth contest in five days.
Gillespie scored 19 of his points in the second half, including 11 straight during one stretch in the third quarter. Team USA entered the fourth quarter trailing by 65-60 but outscored its opponent, 32-18, in the final 10 minutes.
“Collin’s championship pedigree showed tonight,” said Team USA head coach Ed Cooley, the coach at Providence.
Gillespie, who knocked down five three-point baskets, deflected Cooley’s praise.
“It wasn’t just me,” he said. “I have great teammates, and we had a great team effort. We were going against some pros and we are just a bunch of college dudes, but our goal was to bring something home with us.”
Samuels, a junior forward, added nine points and seven rebounds to the win. He and Gillespie started each of the five games in the tournament for Team USA, which was the youngest team in the competition and finished 3-2.
“We faced some adversity along the way, and we bounced back every time,” Cooley said. “I am so proud of the mental toughness of this group. They were a pleasure to coach. We’re so proud to represent our country and the Big East.”