Another golden moment

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LONDON -- The names change, not the results. Just call the U.S. women's basketball team Olympic champion.

The Americans won their fifth consecutive gold medal Saturday, routing France, 86-50, and putting more distance between themselves and the rest of the world heading to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Games.

Candace Parker scored 21 points, including eight in a row in the game-changing, second-quarter run as the U.S. won its 41st Olympic game in a row since taking bronze in 1992.

In that stretch, the U.S. has won by nearly 30 points a game. Only one team has stayed within single digits of them, and they havelost just once in major international competitions, to Russia in the semifinals of the '06 world championship.

Teresa Edwards, Dawn Staley, Sheryl Swoopes and Lisa Leslie got the amazing run started and now Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird and Tamika Catchings have continued it.

With young stars Parker, Maya Moore and Tina Charles playing big roles in London, it doesn't look like the run will end soon.

With the victory, Moore joined an exclusive club. She is the seventh player to win titles in college, the WNBA, the FIBA world championship and Olympics. Teammates Bird, Taurasi, and McKeesport's Swin Cash already are members. Cash won gold in Athens and returned to the Olympic team this year after being left off the roster in '08.

Tamika Catchings said the Americans "just wanted to keep that legacy going."

Edwards, a five-time Olympian, said no worry there.

"The legacy is real," said Edwards, who had a front-row seat Saturday night.

"What these kids have been doing is amazing. Without much time to practice. In the middle of the WNBA season. And they look good. It's like the whole world knows who we are."

The U.S. faced its only challenge in London when Australia took a four-point halftime lead. It was the first time in 12 years that the Americans had trailed at the half. There was no panic or worry. They just stepped up their defense and won by 13 points.

France, which came into the gold-medal game unbeaten in their first Olympics, stayed with the U.S. for the first 12 minutes before Parker took over. She scored eight consecutive points in a 13-2 run that gave the U.S. a 37-23 advantage.

While Parker -- who also had 11 rebounds -- was providing the offense, the U.S. turned up the defense, holding France to one basket over the final 7:25 of the half.

"We always felt like as long as we played our best ... we'd be all right," Bird said.

The U.S. led by 12 at the half and poured it on in the third quarter. France was able to get within 41-31, but the U.S. ended the French's hope of an upset, scoring 13 of the next 14 points.

On one sequence, Catchings got a steal, passed it to Bird, who hit Moore in perfect stride for a finger-roll lay-in down the lane.

The Americans bottled France's flashy point guard Celine Dumerc. Her only field goal in the first half cut the U.S. lead to 24-21. Dumerc finished with just eight points.

THE GOLD RUSH

The U.S. women's basketball team won its 41st consecutive Olympic game and its fifth consecutive Olympic gold medal Saturday. A look at its gold medal wins during the course of the streak:

Team USA 111, Brazil 87 ... Atlanta 1996 ... Americans hit 71.9 percent from the field in the first half (23 of 32). Lisa Leslie leads the U.S. win with 29 points.

Team USA 76, Australia 54 ... Sydney 2000 ... Lisa Leslie and Natalie Wililams score 15 points apiece. The game marks the end of Teresa Edwards' Olympic career.

Team USA 74, Australia 63 ... Athens 2004 ... It is again Leslie who leads the team, averaging 15.6 ppg. The Games also see the Olympic debut of McKeesport's Swin Cash (6.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg).

Team USA 92, Australia 65 ... Beijing 2008 ... The U.S. team uses a 25-15 second quarter to blow open the game. Kara Lawson tops the winners with 15 points.

Team USA 85, France 50 ... London 2012 ... Candace Parker scores 21 points as the U.S. women ran the streak to 41 in a row, winning each by an average of 30 ppg. The victory gives Swin Cash, pictured, her second gold.

olympics


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