After a rough three quarters, the U.S. women's basketball squad was able to overcome the Croatia team in its London Olympics opener Saturday by a score of 81-56. The U.S. women played a mostly dull game, despite winning by almost 30 points. Just a week ago, the Americans beat the Croatians by a 54-point margin.
Tina Charles and Candace Parker were the best players for the U.S., which was aided by Angel McCoughtry's 13 points off the bench. Charles had 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Parker had 11 points and 13 boards, according to the New York Daily News
Both teams struggled at the beginning of the game. In fact, the Croatians missed their first 14 shots. However, they trailed the Americans only by a score of 53-49 before losing their grip when the U.S. went on a 16-point run in the fourth quarter.
The U.S. led by three points at halftime, and it finished the game with 21 turnovers. It was a sloppy effort and coach Geno Auriemma will have to tighten up the team's game if they want to compete with the more formidable opposition that's expected in later rounds.
Auriemma cited the fresh faces on the squad as the reason for the slow start. Five players on the team haven't competed in the Olympics before and the team didn't get back to their hotel from the opening ceremony until almost 3 a.m. local time, according to the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News.
Much of the attention of the basketball world has been focused on the U.S. men's basketball team. With NBA stars such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and others, that's to be expected. However, the U.S. women's squad is also one that teams from other countries would rather not see on their schedule.
The U.S. women's basketball team has won gold in every Olympic tournament since 1996, and overall it is looking for its sixth trip to the top of the winner's podium.
"We want those expectations," U.S. guard Sue Bird told Yahoo. "We're not really worried what people are saying, thinking, talking about us. We're taking it one game at a time until we achieve that goal."
The U.S. will next play Angola, a team that lost its Olympic debut to Turkey by a 72-50 margin. The U.S. will also tip off against China, Turkey, and the Czech Republic during pool play. The Czechs will almost certainly come into the game with a chip on their shoulders: The Czech Republic was the team the U.S. beat in the 2010 world championships to qualify for a spot in London.