2018 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup: USA coach hails gallant D’Tigress
USA coach Dawn Staley was full of praise for D’Tigress after she led America to 71-40 victory over Nigeria on Friday in their 2018 FIBA Women’s World Basketball Cup quarterfinal match in Tenerife, Spain, on Friday.
Staley said the Nigerian side was difficult to beat, adding that the match was one of their toughest.
USA started the game slowly as D’Tigress pegged the world champions back in their half of the court. Nigeria won the first quarter 17-9 but a loss of concentration in the second quarter brought USA back in the game with an 18-6 win. USA took control of the game in the third quarter – winning 19-12 – and completed the last quarter with a 25-5 win.
Ezinne Kalu was the top performer for Nigeria as she accounted for eight points, four rebounds, six assists and five steals. Former Dallas Wings forward Evelyn Akhator also weighed in eight points and five rebounds. But Breanna Stewart led the game for USA with 19 points, three rebounds and five assists.
The Americans converted 43 per cent of their two point field goals against Nigeria’s 28 per cent. D’Tigress had a three point field goal conversion rate of 14 per cent against 36 per cent for USA. Nigeria had a total of 32 rebounds and USA had 62. The defending champions had 23 turnovers in their favour against Nigeria’s 22.
USA converted 59 per cent of their free throws while D’Tigress converted 40 per cent of theirs. Nigerian players made 10 assists while American players made 22. D’Tigress made 10 steals against the seven made by the Americans. USA players raked up seven blocks with Nigeria managing only two. Nigeria’s bench proved less effective on the day as they accounted for only 15 points while the Americans got 31 points from the bench. The USA held a lead of 31-9 before Nigeria could get a point in the match. They got 38 points in the paint while Nigeria managed 14 points.
Staley said at a post-match press conference that USA played against a good team.
“It was a hard-fought game. Nigeria came out and pressured us and it bothered us, probably in the first 20 minutes of the game, and then we made an adjustment in the style of play,” she said at the press conference monitored by our correspondent on FIBA’s Youtube page.
“We started making plays in the second half. Hats off to Nigeria for giving us a tough game, but at the same time I am proud of the team for making the adjustments needed and turning it around in the first.”
Nigeria coach Otis Hughley said at the conference, “I love these girls. I have two biological daughters and I feel like I have 12 more daughters.
“I thought they fought really well in the first half. I think the difference in the game is who shot well. I thought we played exponentially above what we have. Our girls dug down until there was nothing left.
“I’ve never felt so happy after a 31-point loss. I am grateful to every journalist at this competition for paying attention to Nigeria.”
D’Tigress are the first African team to reach the quarterfinals of the World Cup. They won three consecutive matches against Turkey, Argentina and Greece to reach the quarterfinal.
They are making their second appearance since the tournament was first hosted by Chile in 1953. Nigeria’s first appearance was in 2006 when they failed to win a match.