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U.S. women claim basketball gold in rout of France

| Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012, 5:55 p.m.
The United States' Candace Parker and France's Sandrine Gruda (right) chase a loose ball during the women's gold medal basketball game at the Summer Olympics on Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012, in London. AP Photo/Eric Gay

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

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

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

In that stretch, the Americans have won by nearly 30 points per game. Only one team has stayed within single digits of them, and they've lost just once in major international competitions, to Russia in the semifinals of the 2006 world championship.

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

With young stars Parker, Maya Moore and Tina Charles a big part of the success in London, it doesn't look like the run will end anytime soon.

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. “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. I'm really proud of them.”

McKeesport's Swin Cash chipped in three points, one assist and a rebound in the blowout as she earned her second Olympic gold medal.

The U.S. faced its only challenge of the London Games when Australia took a four-point halftime lead. It was the first time in 12 years that the Americans had been trailing at the half.

“It's not easy to just be put together and be expected to win a gold medal,” Taurasi said. “It's a special feeling.”

France, which came into the game unbeaten, stayed with the U.S. for the first 12 minutes before Parker took over. She scored eight straight points during a 13-2 run that gave the U.S. a 37-23 advantage. Twice the 6-foot-4 Parker grabbed the rebound on the defensive end and dribbled up through the defense scoring on the other.

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

With the victory, Moore joined an exclusive club. She's the seventh player to win titles in college, the WNBA, the FIBA world championship and the Olympics.

Teammates Bird, Taurasi and Cash are already members of that club.

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