TOKYO — For the first time in a long time, the U.S. women people’s basketball team came to the Olympics dogged by some doubts.
Now no longer about whether it might perhaps possibly presumably presumably fall wanting a gold medal, which is serene in the realm of mediate-it-when-you-see-it. But the stress level it might perhaps possibly presumably presumably personal terminate to obtain there is an inaugurate discussion for Team USA, which has six first-time Olympians, relies intently on a 40-12 months-old-fashioned and a 39-12 months-old-fashioned and didn’t exactly look primed for a historically dominant bustle during its training camp in Las Vegas.
Based on Tuesday’s 81-72 win over Nigeria in its Olympic opener, those questions are serene genuine.
Whereas Team USA in no scheme looked in risk of losing, it used to be now no longer a visually or statistically spectacular efficiency for an outfit that has on the general performed breathtaking basketball in these settings.
For a unfold of reasons, it’s certain now that the bar for this team might perhaps presumably presumably additionally serene be enormously decrease. As avid gamers and coaches repeated time and again in the lead-up to the Olympics, this roam with a newer roster used to be going to be about taking steps forward each day.
Smooth, exterior of a 23-0 bustle for the U.S. in the second quarter when shots started falling, the Individuals were now no longer some distance and away the better team for some distance of the game. In truth, Nigeria’s pudgy-court docket stress protection gave Team USA suits and contributed enormously to the 25 turnovers the Individuals coughed up.
When the U.S. might perhaps presumably presumably fabricate neat appears to be like to be like terminate to the rim, it took profit, making 52% from inside the arc. The relaxation of the time, the Individuals were tormented by miscommunication, free ball-handling and unhappy shooting from the perimeter, hitting sincere 5-of-20 from the 3-point line. On the defensive live, Team USA gave up 19 offensive rebounds.
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The U.S. created a 20-point gap on the tip of the third quarter and had divulge at some stage in the second half but in no scheme rather put Nigeria away totally. The Individuals will personal paid for that, as Nigeria closed within 75-67 on the 3-minute stamp. But a floater by Sylvia Fowles coming out of a timeout and a pair of mid-differ jumpers by Chelsea Grey ended the risk.
A’Ja Wilson, making her Olympic debut, led Team USA with 19 points whereas heart Brittney Griner had 13.