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The USA Women Pulled Away From A Scrappy Japan Team For A 17-Point Win

For the second straight game, the USA women’s basketball team found itself trailing early, this time to a Japan team that came out swinging offensively.

The size differential between the two sides was a big storyline coming in, as Japan simply had no one who could match up with Britney Griner, A’ja Wilson, and the rest of Team USA’s bigs, but what they had was speed, execution, and shooting that allowed them to put Team USA under some early stress once again. Breanna Stewart was hot early for the USA, and she finished with 15 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists in a tremendous all around performance.

On the other side, it was the balanced team shooting of the Japanese that kept them in the game, as they took a two-point lead into the second quarter, hitting 6-of-10 from three-point range and 6-of-9 from two, as they carved up the USA defense.

In the second quarter, the Americans made the needed adjustments to crowd Japan’s shooters, going to a three-guard lineup that let them stay more attached on the perimeter, holding Japan to just 10 second quarter points as they opened up a nine-point lead at the half thanks to that stifling defense.

In the second half, Team USA would start to pull away as Wilson and Griner just feasted inside. Wilson finished with a game-high 20 points along with 10 rebounds and three blocks, while Griner had 15 points and five boards herself. However, Japan heated up again offensively late in the third and early in the fourth, closing the gap back down to single digits. Ultimately, they just didn’t have enough to keep up with Team USA, who pulled away to a 17-point win that wasn’t quite indicative of how much Japan pushed them.

Some of the same issues persist for the Americans, namely their struggles with fullcourt pressure and turnovers (17 for the game). If they can settle down in those moments and avoid getting sped up, they will likely start to look like the fully dominant force everyone expects them to be, because their offensive balance inside and out, as well as how strong they are defensively when locked in and forcing teams to play in the halfcourt, is remarkable. Still, it’s early in the tournament and they have plenty of time to continue ironing out those details, and have managed a pair of comfortable wins to open up their Olympics, extending their winning streak to 51.

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