ISTANBUL (AP) — Brittney Griner made an immediate impact in her first women's world championship game.
The 6-foot-8 star scored 15 points, including what is believed to be the first dunk ever at the worlds, to lead the United States to an 87-56 victory over China on Saturday in the Group D opener for both teams.
Griner, who was wearing goggles to protect her eye that was injured in Game 2 of the WNBA Finals, joined the team in Istanbul a few days before the game. She fit right in.
"It felt good. It was an easy transition. Coach made it easy for me, worked with me in practice," Griner said. "It's like having four other coaches out there on the court. Everyone is out there helping me out and making sure that it's a smooth first game and experience for me. So, it's been really easy for me, honestly, for this first game on the world stage."
Griner got the U.S. going with her one-handed dunk early in the first quarter. l China hung tough through the first half and only trailed 39-32 at the break.
Then the Americans took over, scoring the first nine points of the third quarter to blow the game open. By the end of the period the U.S. led 60-40. The Americans never looked back after that.
"It's the kind of game that you would hope to have as the first game of the tournament, where you have to play really well against China defensively because they do a lot of good stuff on the offensive end," U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said. "And we didn't make any shots in the first half at all."
"When we went in at halftime we talked about it, and then stuff started going in. So, it was good that we started the game in the first half under a little bit of duress and we finished the game on a high, so that's great going into tomorrow against another really good team in Serbia."
Xiaojia Chen and Mengran Sun each scored 10 points to lead China, which will play Angola on Sunday.
Tina Charles added 15 rebounds for the Americans, who set a team record with 63 rebounds. The U.S. broke its mark of 60 set against Lithuania in 1998. The 89 shots also were a team record, surpassing the mark of 88 against Brazil in 1994.
The U.S. will play Serbia on Sunday.
Serbia routed Angola 102-42 in its opener. In other opening games Saturday; Australia defeated Cuba 90-57, and Belarus topped South Korea 70-64 in Group C. Spain topped Japan 74-50, and the Czech Republic defeated Brazil 68-55 in Group A; and Canada beat Mozambique 69-54, and host Turkey edged past France 50-48 in Group B.
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