Ariel Atkins, Tina Charles and Team USA roll Nigeria 93-62 originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
With Sunday’s 93-62 victory over Nigeria, the USA Women’s Basketball team’s pre-Olympic camp ended on a positive note.
The star-studded roster, which includes Washington Mystics guard Ariel Atkins and center Tina Charles, bounced back from consecutive defeats in exhibition games against the WNBA All-Stars and Australia earlier in the week.
The team responded by shooting 53.8% from the field and 56.3% from 3-point range.
Atkins, who is set to make her Olympic debut this week, recorded five points, two rebounds and an assist in just over 12 minutes on the floor.
Tina Charles pulled down 9 rebounds. It was a strong defensive performance for Team USA, but Charles perhaps had the top play with back-to-back blocks under the basket in the second quarter.
The two-time gold medalist will compete in her third Olympic Games later this month, but is still playing like she has everything to prove.
The two exhibition defeats raised some questions about the team’s readiness, but Sunday’s performance may have put that to rest for the time being.
“The energy, the effort, the deliberateness was all apparent today,” USA head coach Dawn Staley, a University of Virginia alum and the current coach at South Carolina, said after the game. “I know that they don’t like losing and losing will help you focus a lot quicker and get the type of result that we wanted today.”
Atkins is one of five first-timers on this Olympic roster and with four-time Olympic gold medalist Diana Taurasi still absent due to a hip injury, it is no surprise that the team will need more than one week to gel.
But it is also no surprise that expectations are high for a team that went 8-0 on the way to a gold in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Over the next two weeks Team USA will pursue the program’s eighth gold medal with their first game on July 27 again vs. Nigeria in the Group Stage opener.