Olympic Basketball 2021: USA Women Score Group Win vs. Japan

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 30, 2021

United States' Breanna Stewart (10), right, celebrates with teammates after their win in the women's basketball preliminary round game against Japan at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 30, 2021, in Saitama, Japan. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Team USA improved to 2-0 in women's basketball at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo with an 86-69 win over host Japan on Friday.

The Americans now own wins over Japan and Nigeria, putting them atop Group B, with Japan and France tied for second at 1-1.

Belgium, France and China also picked up victories in group play on Friday.

Here is a full listing of results from Friday's action in women's basketball, along with further analysis regarding each of the four games.

Friday Olympic Women's Basketball Results

USA 86, Japan 69

Belgium 87, Puerto Rico 52

France 87, Nigeria 62

China 76, Australia 74

Friday Olympic Women's Basketball Recap

USA 86, Japan 69

Team USA bounced back from a slow start Friday to comfortably beat Japan and put itself in ideal position to win Group B.

Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm and A'ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces were the stars for the U.S., as they both recorded double-doubles in the victory.

Wilson was the game's leading scorer with 20 points to go along with 10 rebounds, three assists and three blocks, while Stewart chipped in 15 points, 13 boards, six assists and two blocks.

Team USA fired on all cylinders offensively, but the best play of the day came on the defensive end when Stewart executed a chase-down block in the second quarter:

#TokyoOlympics @NBCOlympics

THAT HUSTLE. THAT BLOCK. ( 👀 <a href="https://twitter.com/UConnWBB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@UConnWBB</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/seattlestorm?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@seattlestorm</a> )<a href="https://twitter.com/breannastewart?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@breannastewart</a> says NOPE. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TokyoOlympics?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TokyoOlympics</a> x <a href="https://twitter.com/TeamUSA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TeamUSA</a> <br><br>📺 <a href="https://twitter.com/USA_Network?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@USA_Network</a><br>💻 <a href="https://t.co/up23vSJy17">https://t.co/up23vSJy17</a><br>📱NBC Sports App <a href="https://t.co/UBINWpn3XK">pic.twitter.com/UBINWpn3XK</a>

For Wilson, she now has two double-doubles in two games in Tokyo, and she has developed into a dominant interior force for the Americans.

WNBA analyst LaChina Robinson even compared Wilson to one of the greatest bigs in the history of USA women's basketball:

LaChina Robinson @LaChinaRobinson

The toughness &amp; focus at the Olympic level gives me flashbacks of Lisa Leslie when I watch A’ja Wilson. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Olympics?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Olympics</a>

The Americans came out of the gates slow Friday, trailing 30-28 after the first quarter, but the defense tightened up significantly thereafter, allowing just 39 points over the final three quarters.

Team USA also trailed Nigeria after the first quarter in its opening game before storming back, proving that the United States gets better as the game goes on.

In total, five Team USA players scored in double figures with Brittney Griner (15), Jewell Loyd (12) and Diana Taurasi (11) joining Stewart and Wilson.

The Americans dominated statistically, shooting 54 percent from the field compared to 35 percent for Japan and winning the rebound battle 48-33.

Next up for Team USA is France on Monday to close out group play, while Japan will face Nigeria on Monday.

Belgium 87, Puerto Rico 52

Belgium continued its hot start at the 2021 Summer Olympics, beating Puerto Rico by 35 points Friday.

Emma Meesseman, who stars for the WNBA's Washington Mystics, was the biggest difference-maker for Belgium, scoring a game-high 26 points to go along with 15 rebounds, six assists and three steals.

That came on the heels of a 32-point performance from Meesseman in Belgium's opening win over Australia.

Belgium got 18 points from Hanne Mestdagh and 15 from Kim Mestdagh in the one-sided victory Friday.

After taking a seven-point lead into the first quarter, Belgium outscored Puerto Rico by a 20-8 margin in the second, which essentially put the game out of reach.

Belgium ended shot 52 percent from the floor in the game, compared to just 24 percent for Puerto Rico, and Belgium also outrebounded Puerto Rico 54-33.

The win gives Belgium a 2-0 record for the tournament, tying it with China for first place in Group C.

Belgium and China will play for the group Monday, while Puerto Rico and Australia will face each other Monday, with each in search of their first win.

France 87, Nigeria 62

On the heels of a disappointing loss to Japan in its opening game, France performed much better Friday in an 87-62 win over Nigeria.

France benefited from a balanced offensive attack with five players scoring at least 13 points in the game.

Veteran center Sandrine Gruda led the way with 14 points and nine rebounds, while Endene Miyem, Gabby Williams, Marine Johannes and Alix Duchet all scored 13 points apiece.

By comparison, Nigeria had just two players score in double figures, including leading scorer Promise Amukamara, who finished with just 11 points.

France shot 50 percent from the field in the win, while Nigeria only connected on 35 percent of its field-goal attempts.

The French dominated the rebounding battle 45-32 as well, and they also dished out 24 assists to Nigeria's 10.

France will face its toughest test yet Monday when it takes on Team USA, while Nigeria will attempt to bounce back against Japan.

China 76, Australia 74

The only truly competitive game of the day saw China outlast Australia 76-74 to improve its tournament record to 2-0.

China stormed out to an eight-point lead through one quarter, only to give it all back and enter the locker room at halftime with the score tied. China then bounced back and led by eight after three, and while the Aussies staged a comeback, they fell short in the fourth.

Australia managed to tie the game at 74-74 with just two seconds remaining, but it fouled China's Li Yueru with less than a second left.

Li made both of her free throws to ice the game for China.

Yueru was one of the top stars for China on Friday, netting 12 points to go along with seven rebounds and five assists. Wang Siyu was the team's leading scorer with 20 points.

Australia had three players score in double figures, including Ezi Magbegor, who led the way with 15.

Neither team shot the ball particularly well, with China making 43 percent of its attempts and Australia making 39, but China did thrive around the basket.

China had more rebounds by a 42-31 margin and outscored Australia 36-30 in the paint as well.

Friday's win means China will face undefeated Belgium on Monday, with the winner taking the group, while Australia and Puerto Rico will both look to secure their first win.