Aug. 2 (UPI) — In their final group-stage game of women’s Olympic basketball in Tokyo on Monday, Team USA defeated France in a closely contested match on the shooting power of their stars.
The Americans downed the Europeans 93-82 in a game at the Saitama Super Arena where they came on strong in the end with A’ja Wilson netting 22 points and Breanna Stewart downing 17 to lead both teams in scoring.
However, the Americans have yet to dominate in this tournament as they were expected to, a trend that continued into Monday’s game where they got off to a slow start finding few defensive answers for France who led 22-19 after the first quarter with the USA missing its first five three-point shots.
The court started to tilt ever so slightly in the Americans’ favor during the second quarter on the strength of Stewart’s shooting who tied it up at 39 half-way through the frame with a right-handed running floater, which was also her ninth point of the game.
By half-time, she had 14 points on six of nine shots, and the United States led 50-44.
It was the United States most dominate frame that was followed by France in the third whittling away at the U.S. lead to give them only a four-point deficit going into the game’s final 10 minutes.
Here, France would retake the lead by one point early as they consistently netted baskets to the Americans failing to do so, but being behind seemed to ignite them and the Americans put on a defensive clinic from there on out, denying France pushing for baskets clear shots during entire possessions as they netted their own opportunities.
In the end, the Americans downed 62% of their two-point field goals and 45% of their threes compared to the French who only achieved 53% and 29%, respectively.
Team USA had already punched their ticket to the elimination quarterfinals to start Tuesday while the French in the loss punched theirs as they kept the margin to fewer than 14 points.
“Despite the defeat against the Americans, [the French] validate their ticket” to the quarterfinals, France’s basketball organization said on Twitter.