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Aja Wilson scored 19 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as the United States opens up their Olympic pool play with an 81-72 victory over Nigeria. The victory was the United States Women’s 50th win in a row in Olympic competition.
Even with a team full of WNBA All-Stars, the United States got off to a slow and sloppy start. Nigeria’s first quarter defense forced eight turnovers, which helped them to a three-point lead at the end of the first quarter.
Then the star power of the USA took over. Led by Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi, USA went on a 23-0 run in the second quarter and took a double-digit lead at halftime. Taurasi had a team-high 10 points at the half.
The real story of the game was the United States using their size to their advantage. Having not only Wilson, but Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner helped as the United States won the rebounding battle by 20. Griner also finished with a double-double (13 points and 10 rebounds).
The United States made 18 of their 29 made shots from the paint. Their size was too much for Nigeria to handle.
Even with the success on the inside, the United States had concerns holding onto the ball. After turning the ball over eight times in the opening quarter, the United States pattern continued throughout the other three remaining quarters.
USA finished with 25 turnovers for the game and that allowed Nigeria to close within nine points even though the United States led by 20 points going into the final quarter.
The nine-point victory was the closest point total in the last 50 games for the United States women. In each of the other 49 consecutive wins, the United States women’s team won by double-digits.
After this victory, the United States will prepare for the host Japan in their next game.
The good news for the United States is that Japan does not have a player over 6 foot 1 inches tall. As long as they can fix the turnover concerns, the United States should be able to win their second consecutive game in their group.