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Team USA shows some improvement as Wilson, Stewart assert themselves in win over Japan

The United States’ women’s basketball team defeated Japan by eight more than it defeated Nigeria by with five players scoring in double figures, including WNBA MVPs A’ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart.

2020 Tokyo Olympics: USA v Japan
Breanna Stewart (with ball)
Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

A’ja Wilson (20 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, three blocks) and Breanna Stewart (15 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, two blocks) showed why they are two of the best players in the world and the United States went on a 10-0 run late to make things a bit more comfortable in a 86-69 win over host Japan on Friday in Saitama.

The win improved Team USA’s record at the 2020 Olympics to 2-0 while Japan fell to 1-1. USA was coming off a nine-point win over the 17th-ranked team in the world in Nigeria, while No. 10 Japan was coming off a four-point upset victory over No. 5 France.

Stewart scored four points on the 10-0 run, while Diana Taurasi (11 points, three assists) hit a three and Sue Bird scored her first points of these Olympics on a three that bounced off the front of the rim and in.

Brittney Griner rounded out the U.S.’s starting lineup with 15 points and five boards, while Jewell Loyd was impressive off the bench, scoring 12 points off a layup, two mid-range makes and two threes. She was 2-of-3 from deep while Stewart and Taurasi were both 3-of-5.

Bird had six assists to match Stewart for the team high, but Japan’s Rui Machida notched the game high with 11 to go along with nine points. Maki Takada scored a team-high 15 points in defeat while Saki Hayashi (four steals) had 12, Monica Okoye had 11 and Yuki Miyazawa (six rebounds) had nine.

Japan fired off a whopping 38 threes in the contest, making 10 of them. The strategy worked early as it led 30-28 after one. The U.S. won the battle on the defensive glass 42-25 and won despite attempting just five free throws.

In addition to going 6-of-9 on triples in the first quarter, Japan did a good job of driving the basketball as the U.S. bigs sometimes had trouble staying in front of its quick guards. But Team USA used a 21-10 second quarter to lead by nine at the break and Wilson and Griner proved to be too much for Japan to handle inside.