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Olympics: Japan women advance past Nigeria to basketball quarterfinals

Japan's Moeko Nagaoka (0) scores past Nigeria's Adaora Elonu (11) during a women's basketball preliminary round game at the 2020 Summer Olympics, on Aug. 2, 2021, in Saitama, Japan. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

SAITAMA, Japan (Kyodo) -- Japan's women's basketball team led for all but the first five minutes to beat Group B opponent Nigeria 102-83 in their final pool play game on Monday, advancing to the playoffs for the second straight Olympics.

    Three players -- Saki Hayashi, Yuki Miyazawa and Nako Motohashi -- had multiple threes for the world 10th-ranked Japanese, who rained down 19 triples at Saitama Super Arena to finish the group stage with a 2-1 record.

    Hayashi led her team in scoring with 23 points, while Miyazawa chipped in 19 and Maki Takada 15. Japan guard Rui Machida matched an Olympic women's single-game assists record with 15 in 20 minutes played.

    Machida equaled the record held by the United States' Teresa Edwards, who achieved the feat at the 1996 Atlanta Games, according to FIBA, the sport's governing body.

    With starters Hayashi, Takada, Machida, Moeko Nagaoka and Himawari Akaho taking their positions for the tip-off, Japan made seven of 10 three-point attempts to take an eight-point lead after the first quarter.

    Japan shot 64 percent from beyond the arc in the first half. Hayashi scored seven of 11 from the three-point range.

    Japan built a 27-point advantage heading into the fourth quarter and never looked back.

    Last week, Japan won its opener against France in a tight 74-70 battle and lost its second game of pool play against the U.S., 86-69.

    The quarterfinals are on Wednesday and the semifinals on Friday. The gold medal will be up for grabs on Sunday.

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