Japan wins 1st Olympic game since 2004, edging Belarus 77-73
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Ramu Tokashiki's layup with 3:30 left put Japan ahead to stay Saturday night in a 77-73 victory over Belarus.
The win was the first for Japan in the Olympics since 2004. The Asian country didn't qualify for the games in 2008 or 2012.
Mika Kurihara scored 20 points for Japan, Tokashiki finished with 16 and Maki Takada had 12.
Yelena Leuchanka scored 15 points for Belarus. Lindsey Harding had 12 before fouling out in the Olympic opener for both teams.
Japan led 41-40 at halftime despite being outrebounded 24-12. Belarus took a 53-46 lead midway through the third quarter before Kurihara hit back-to-back 3s, and she scored again just before the buzzer to tie it at 60 going into the fourth.
Belarus last led 65-62 on Aliaksandra Tarasava's 3. Tokashiki's layup put Japan up 66-65, and Moeko Nagaoka followed with a 3 in front of her bench with 2:59 left.