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A’ja Wilson, Team USA defeats Nigeria to open Tokyo 2020 Olympics

The late coach of Chelsea Gray and Sylvia Fowles by Dawn Staley, head coach of the USA. by Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

Nigeria were on a 12-0 run that brought the score from 75-55 US to 75-67 US when Gray and Fowles came in during Adaora Nnenna Elonu free kicks. Elonu had just made a 3-pointer from the left corner and was awarded two free kicks because A’ja Wilson, who was the star of the game, came into her shooting space.

After Elonu was over at 3:19, he made both free throws, and Gray found Fowles for a small driver that brought the U.S. lead back to 10. Two Gray mid-range make later, USA had 14: 30 with 14:30. Gray also stole during the stretch and Fowles suffered a defensive setback.

Nigeria ended the match 5-0, but there was not enough time to get it back completely.

Wilson scored 12 points in the second half to finish with a game-high 19. She was relentless with plates and setbacks and led all rebounders with 13 caroms to go along with two steals and two blocks.

Brittney Griner added 13 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two blocks, while Sue Bird had an incredible 13 assists. Both Bird and Diana Taurasi proved worthy of their fifth Olympic appearance together as Taurasi scored all 10 of her points in the first half. Breanna Stewart struggled early but finished with nine points, 11 boards and four helpers.

Nigeria were led by Ezinne Kalu’s 16 points, while Elonu and Promise Amukamara (four assistants) each threw in 10. Kalu also had six rebounds.

Nigeria frightened the US early and late. It led three minutes and 34 seconds 8-1 and 20-17 after one. But the USA passed in a second run with 23-0, which took the score from 25-20 Nigeria to 43-25 USA.

Wilson contributed the first four points of the run and Stewart scored her first point of the game on a free throw to tie the game. Later, Stewart’s first field goal put the score at 32-25 and her first try was big for momentum as it brought the score to 37-25. Tina Charles added six points.

Elonu made a deep bank try at the buzzer of the second to give Nigeria some momentum and reduce its deficit at half-time to 12. The U.S. responded by winning the third 26-18 and concluding it with a Jewell Loyd buzzer-beater triple.

Nigeria were 4-of-26 from across the arc and penetrated fourth place before being 2-of-2 in the final framework.

The U.S. shot Nigeria 21 percent off the field in the first half, surpassing it 61-41 (45-22 on the defensive glass) for the game. Another important state was the US 14 first half compared to the three of Nigeria.

Nigeria turned the ball over only twice in the first half, while the US turned it over 25 times in the match, something he will have to clear up before facing host Japan on Friday. Japan defeated France 74-70 on Monday.

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