LAS VEGAS — The U.S. women’s Olympic basketball team was in unfamiliar territory after dropping two exhibition games in a row for the first time in a decade.
The Americans rebounded with a strong effort to beat Nigeria 93-62 on Sunday in the final pre-Olympic exhibition tuneup for both teams.
“It feels good,” U.S. coach Dawn Staley said. “To come out and play the way we did on both sides of the basketball. We shared it, got our bigs the ball. We made a concerted effort to do that. I think everyone in the locker room feels good about being able to impact the game in a lot of different ways.”
A’ja Wilson scored 16 points and Breanna Stewart added 14 to lead the U.S., which dropped consecutive exhibition games for the first time since 2011 with losses to the WNBA All-Stars and Australia this week.
“No one wants to be on the team that loses,” Wilson said. “I was a little like, ‘Uh-oh.’ People talk and jump the gun, say everything and anything. The vets were like, ‘It’s OK. It’s part of the game — we’ll get back.’ Coach came in today and said we’re getting back to our dominance and that helped me feel a little more at ease. The people we have in the locker room are so talented. We know what we were doing.”
The Americans got off to a strong start, racing to a 20-4 lead. After shooting 2-for-18 from behind the 3-point arc in the loss to Australia, the U.S. pounded the ball inside early and often against Nigeria. The first 10 points came from Wilson and Brittney Griner.
The U.S. led 29-15 after one quarter as Stewart had 10 points. Griner took over in the second quarter to help the Americans extend the lead to 55-34 at the half. Nigeria never made a run in the second half against the U.S., which was missing Diana Taurasi for the third straight exhibition game as she recovers from a hip injury.
She said Saturday that she’d be ready for the Olympics.
Nigeria’s roster is still undetermined for the Olympics that begin next week, as the African nation tries to bring on Nneka Ogwumike and Elizabeth Williams. Williams did play for Nigeria in the exhibition game, while Ogwumike and her sister Chiney, who was approved to play as a naturalized player for Nigeria, were on the bench but not suited up.
Erica Ogwumike, the youngest of the four Ogwumike sisters, had five points for Nigeria. Atonye Nyingifa scored nine points to lead the team.
Nigeria has been a team on the rise, reaching the quarterfinals of the World Cup in 2018 before losing to the U.S.
These two teams will open against each other in the Olympics on July 27.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.