Jumping out to a 36-10 lead at the end of the first period, the 2020 USA Basketball Women’s National Team (2-0, 16-1) controlled the game from start to finish in a 124-49 victory over Mozambique (0-2) at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament on Saturday night in Belgrade, Serbia.
The USA closes play against Nigeria (1-1) on Jan. 9. That contest will tip at 2 p.m. EST and will stream on ESPN+.
By halftime all 11 available U.S. athletes had scored, and at the end of the game the USA was led by 24 points and nine rebounds from Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks/Stanford). A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces/South Carolina) contributed 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists; Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury/Baylor) had 16 points and nine rebounds; Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm/Notre Dame) added 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists; Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm/Connecticut) also had 11 points; and Katie Lou Samuelson (Chicago Sky/Connecticut) contributed 10 points.
Additionally, Chelsea Gray (Los Angeles Sparks/Duke) tallied 12 of the USA’s 41 assists, while Skylar Diggins-Smith (Dallas Wings/Notre Dame) dished out six.
“Big thanks to Mozambique for giving us a great, competitive game,” said Ogwumike. “I don’t think we ever walk in thinking that we’re the better team. I think we expect everyone’s best competition, which is what we got today with Mozambique. They never give up. They made us work on every play, offensively and defensively. I’m just really glad that we were able to come out with a good win, knowing that we got better from the other team.”
The USA won the opening tip, and Ogwumike scored the first five points in a 7-0 opening run that also featured a pair of assists.
“The first two plays Nneka made were examples of what we wanted to do,” said USA co-coach Dan Hughes (Seattle Storm). “The ball moved. There are a lot of assists on the stat sheet, and it went to different natural spots. We moved the ball extremely well, defended and played the game in a way that we want to get something from every time we’re together, and I thought we got something out of today.”
The first quarter saw the USA shoot 68.2% percent (15-22 FGs), including nine points from Ogwumike and seven points from Stewart, and the USA led 36-10 with 14 assists after 10 minutes.
“We were running our lanes wide, our spacing was good and I felt like we were playing off of each other really well,” said Gray of the team’s ball distribution. “We can control us, play our way and play to our standard every time we step on the court. That’s what we did tonight, and it showed. We had a lot of assists all the way around. It was a great game for us in that way, as well as for our chemistry.”
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