Despite winning the first and fourth quarters against the United States in their group opener at the ongoing Tokyo Olympics, Nigeria’s female basketball team were painfully defeated 72-81 by the Americans early Tuesday morning.
The opening group game was a rematch from just a week ago when these two teams faced off in an exhibition match in the build-up to the Olympics in Las Vegas.
During that game, Team USA routed the Nigerian Ladies 93-62 but it was a different clash in Tokyo where D’Tigress gave the Americans a huge scare.
Despite being denied the huge experience of Nneka Ogwumike by FIBA, D’Tigress with a roster full of former U.S. college players showed a lot of promise and could have even stunned the Americans.
A clear indication Nigeria wasn’t intimidated by the Americans saw the Ladies jumping out to an 8-1 lead as the U.S. women missed their first four shots and committed four turnovers.
D’Tigress were up 20-17 after the first quarter and extended the lead to 25-20 before the U.S. took over and never looked back from then on.
A’ja Wilson had 19 points and 13 rebounds in her Olympic debut to help the U.S. pull away in the second and third quarters which they won 27-12 and 26-18.
Ezinne Kalu was the top performer for Nigeria; registering 16 points in the thrilling encounter.
Though D’Tigres rallied to win the last quarter 22-11, it was too late to see them cause a rare upset but they became the first team to get within single digits of the U.S. at the Olympics since Russia lost in the semifinals of 2004 Athens Games by four.
Tuesday’s win was the Americans’ 50th consecutive victory in the Olympics dating back to a loss in the semifinals of the 1992 Barcelona Games.
D’Tigress are next up against the French women’s team, who also lost their first game to Japan albeit with a lesser four points difference.
That game comes up on Friday.
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