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USA Women's Basketball Beats Croatia 81-56 At London Olympics

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Candace Parker of United States and Tamika Catchings of United States show camaraderie while alongside teammates Tina Charles and Diana Taurasi in the first half against Croatia during Women's Basketball on Day 1 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Basketball Arena on July 28, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Candace Parker of United States and Tamika Catchings of United States show camaraderie while alongside teammates Tina Charles and Diana Taurasi in the first half against Croatia during Women's Basketball on Day 1 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Basketball Arena on July 28, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

LONDON — Tina Charles scored 14 points and Angel McCoughtry added 13 to lead the U.S. women's basketball team to a sloppy 81-56 victory over Croatia on Saturday in their Olympic opener.

Coach Geno Auriemma had said he was hoping that the Americans could play a style of basketball that would be entertaining and help grow the game internationally. That didn't happen Saturday as the U.S. struggled for the first three quarters before pulling away to win their 34th consecutive Olympic contest.

The victory was far different than the 54-point pounding the Americans gave Croatia a week earlier.

Despite missing its first 14 shots, Croatia hung tough for the first 30 minutes before the Americans finally could pull away.

The U.S., which has dominated its opponents en route to the last four gold medals, only led 53-49 early in the fourth quarter before a 16-0 run put the game out of reach.

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