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Gorgui Dieng leads Senegal to upset victory over Croatia

Minnesota Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng powered Senegal to an impressive 77-75 victory over Croatia in FIBA World Cup action on Sept. 1.

Dieng scored 27 points, on 8-of-14 shooting from the field, and grabbed eight rebounds while playing all 40 minutes. He also converted 11-of-12 free throws, had three assists and blocked two shots. Dieng, the only Senegal player with NBA experience, is averaging 22.0 points and 11.7 rebounds during the World Cup.

Xane Dalmeida tallied 15 points and handed out five assists for the winners while Mouhammad Faye added 11 points and six caroms.

Senegal led 18-16 after one period and pushed its lead to 41-32 at halftime. Croatia was only able to cut into Senegal’s lead by two by the end of the third quarter (59-52).

Croatia tightened up its defense in the fourth quarter, permitting just five points in the first 4:30 minutes of the stanza. As a result of its defensive play, Croatia was able to get within two at the 4:57 mark after four straight free throws by Ante Tomic.

Four consecutive points by Dieng pushed the lead back to six, but Croatia went on a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to one following a triple by Brooklyn Net Bojan Bogdanovic with 2:10 remaining. Dieng then answered with a layup with 1:29 to go to put Senegal up 72-69.

Croatia had several opportunities to tie the game up but misfired from long-distance before Abdou Bajdi finally came down with a defensive board with 33 ticks on the clock. Mamadou NDoye then made 1-of-2 from the charity stripe to make it 73-69.

Oliver Lafayette knocked down a three-pointer to bring Croatia to within one, once again with just 21 seconds showing on the clock. Two seconds later, Dalmeida iced the game for Senegal (2-1) with a pair of free throws.

Dario Saric, the 12th pick in the 2014 draft, and Bodgandovic paced Croatia (2-1) with 15 points apiece. Tomic finished with 14 points and nine caroms.

Senegal faces Argentina (2-1) on Sept. 3, while Croatia battles with Greece (2-0).