Team USA overcame a rusty start in women’s basketball to post a 81-72 comeback win over Nigeria to open pool play at the 2020 Olympics in Japan on Tuesday.
The win is the Americans’ 50th-straight win in Olympic women’s basketball.
A’Ja Wilson was one of three U.S. players in double digits, leading all scorers with 19 points, while Sue Bird‘s 12-assist day stands as another highlight.
The U.S. suffered through a cold start to the game, shooting poorly and perhaps not coincidentally failing to get a point from Breanna Stewart until her free throw tied the game at 25 midway through the second quarter.
Nigeria led 20-17 after the first quarter and 25-20 early in the second. Their decent start was paced by seven points each from Ifunanya Ibekwe and Promise Amukamara.
The Americans turned it on in the second quarter. Diana Taurasi had 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting at the break, while Sue Bird didn’t score but posted six assists with a game-high plus-18 through 12 minutes.
Nigeria led by as many as five early in the second quarter but the halftime score of 44-32 betrayed the tepid first quarter and came with a banked-in deep three from the African side at the buzzer.
Ezinne Kalu and the Nigerians kept fighting despite trailing by 20 after three quarters, rallying with a fourth frame to build on at Saitama Super Arena. Their 12-0 run late forced Dawn Staley’s Americans to refind its form late in the game, as Sylvia Fowles and Chelsea Gray came up big down the stretch.
The U.S. next meets hosts Japan on Friday before tangling with France to finish group play on Aug. 2.
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