Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart and the United States cruised to a 121-56 win over Senegal on Sunday in their first game of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Stewart tied for the most points in the game with 15, while Bird led all players with eight assists as the Americans broke their own Olympic records for points and margin of victory.
Stewart, Diana Taurasi and Sylvia Fowles each had a game-high 15 points as seven USA players reached double figures and all 12 scored at least four points in the victory.
Bird, playing in her fourth Olympics, started at point guard on Sunday and finished one assist shy of her Olympic career high. The Storm veteran also had zero turnovers, five points on 2-of-3 shooting and two steals in 19 minutes of action.
Making her Olympic debut, the 21-year-old Stewart converted five of six shots on her way to 15 points in 14 minutes off the bench. She entered at the start of the second quarter – the USA held a 35-9 lead after one – and knocked down a pair of jump shots in the first few minutes. Later in the quarter, Bird assisted on back-to-back Stewart baskets, including an alley-oop layup that made it 51-19.
Stewart finished with 10 points in the first half, and the USA led 64-21 at the break. Bird was the only American who hadn’t scored at that point, but seven of her eight dimes came in the first half.
After attempting just one shot in the first three quarters, Bird sank both of her jumpers in the final period, a pull-up from the foul line and an open three-pointer. Stewart also hit a corner three-pointer in the final minutes.
The USA improves to 5-0 all-time versus Senegal, the lowest-ranked nation in this year’s Olympics.
The Americans’ quest for a sixth straight gold medal continues on Monday. They will face Spain at 8 a.m. PT in the second of five preliminary-round games.
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In their own opening game, Ramu Tokashiki and Japan earned a 77-73 win over Belarus on Saturday. Mika Kurihara led Japan with 20 points, while Tokashiki added 16 points on 6-of-15 shooting, four rebounds, one steal and one block in her Olympic debut. Japan has already equaled the win total from its last Olympic appearance in 2004, when it went 1-4 in the preliminary round.
Next up for Japan is a Monday game against Brazil, which lost 84-66 to Australia in its opener.