The USA women’s basketball team won they’re Olympic debut against Nigeria. The USA women’s basketball team is in pursuit of the programs seventh straight gold medal.
Nigeria came out hot and had an 8-1 lead. A three pointer by Diana Taurasi and a physical play by Brittney Griner woke the team up and closed the gap 8-7. Jewell Lloyd’s three pointer led to some back and forth offense. The US began to turn the ball over giving Nigeria some ground back. Both teams struggled with shooting early and nobody could get into a real rhythm.
Head coach Dawn Staley was very upset with the lack of defensive cohesion and the eight turnovers in the first quarter. Nigeria’s Ify Ibekwe closed out the quarter with a three and gave her team a 20-17 lead. Additionally, Promise Amukamara also got off off to a great start.
The second quarter began with Nigeria expanding on the lead with fierce defense and intense energy. The Americans finally seemed to adjust as they tried to match what Nigeria was bringing to them and tied the game at 25. The Americans went on a 17-0 run fueled by sharp shooting to take the lead 37-25. The good play continued out of Nigeria’s time out as team USA was shooting 54%. Nigeria went almost seven minutes without scoring before getting a quick lay up. 44-32 was the halftime score as Adora Elonu got a bank shot to beat the buzzer.
The rhythm for both teams was lost as the third quarter began. Then out of nowhere, it seemed like the US was shot out of a cannon. Brianna Stewart got a pass from her WNBA teammate Sue Bird to get a layup and give the the US a 55-36 lead after the made free throw. Shortly after, A’ja Wilson did the same. The lead continued to grow as Nigeria looked lost. They tried to chip away at the lead, but the ball was not going in the net. Jewell Loyd topped the Elonu buzzer beater to end the quarter and buried a shot only she could make. USA had the lead 70-50. Loyd is a master of the off kilter shot.
As the fourth quarter began, team USA had 19 turnovers as opposed to 6 Nigeria turnovers. Coach Staley as a three time gold medal winner herself will make sure they rectify that before the next game. There was a pause in play had Loyd hit the deck because of a screen and seemed winded, but she continued to play and made a good pass break up on defense. A’ja Wilson continued her good play to the tune of 19 points and 13 rebounds.
Elonu willed her team back with a completed five point play due to a three pointer, traditional free throw, and an unsportsmanlike foul free throw. Nigeria was on a 12-0 run with a little over three minutes to go and a nine point deficit. The turnover count for team USA grew to 25. Finally,, the Americans took they’re first game 81-72 to get they’re 50th straight Olympic game win.
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