x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Olympics: USA women's team coast to fifth basketball gold

The US women's basketball team swept to a 85-50 victory over previously unbeaten France - then immediately set their sights on claiming a sixth consecutive gold at Rio in 2016.

Asjah Jones jumps to score against France during the London 2012 Olympic basketball finals
Asjah Jones jumps to score against France during the London 2012 Olympic basketball finals

LONDON  // United States women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma is hoping fans do not get bored with success after his team won a record fifth straight gold medal with victory over France.

The Americans swept the previously unbeaten French aside 86-50 as the final descended into a rout in the second half, and the Americans extended their own record run as the most successful women's team in any sport at the Olympics.

It was their 41st straight Olympic victory, a run that stretches back to the bronze medal game at the 1992 Games in Barcelona, and Auriemma admits some of the drama may have gone from watching his team.

"You can't apologise for being really good," he said. "The reason (fans) don't think there is any competition is because they don't have to be here playing.

"We know the competition. We know how good those other teams are and we know how hard we have to work to make it look that easy.

"There's a level of expectation here to win. Maybe in other sports there isn't that same level of expectation but we're not going to start losing to make them feel better."

The Americans grabbed hold of the game in the second quarter with Candace Parker stepping up to size control.

The Los Angeles Sparks star grabbed offensive rebound after offensive rebound and turned them into points to help the Americans pull away in the second quarter, ultimately finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds.

"When Candace Parker came into the game, that changed the game completely," Auriemma said. "She was the biggest difference in the game and we all took that and ran with it.

"We beat a really good team, but we're a great team."

Three members of Auriemma's squad won their third straight gold medal, with Tamika Catchings, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi afforded a standing ovation from their teammates when they were taken out of the game together in the final two minutes.

"We are the golden girls," said Bird, who had 11 points. "We've done it again.

"Taurasi played tremendously well in the second half."

Taurasi was clearly emotional after winning her third gold alongside her former college coach Auriemma, and after a difficult two years marked by a failed drugs test in December 2010 that was later annulled when the Turkish laboratory involved was found to be wrong.

"It does feel a little different (to the others)," she said. "As you get older maybe you reflect more on everything you've had to overcome in your career.

"It kind of all went through my head, all the things I've been through. The good, the bad, the personal. But it was a good feeling."

France lit up this tournament in the early stages on the start of an unexpected run to the final, and although the meeting brought a heavy defeat, there was still plenty of pride for their players in taking home a silver medal.

"I must congratulate Team USA," said their coach Pierre Vincent. "They showed us how they are bigger, more skilled, more knowledgeable, just better than us at everything.

"We wanted to fight a little bit more but we didn't succeed. I think my team is exhausted. We showed our limits, but they showed us the way to go and how to improve."

With 41 straight wins in the books and all those gold medals around the necks of players and former players, it remains to be seen if and when the United States can be stopped.

"We all just get along really well," Taurasi said. "It's good to do this together. It's a special feeling.

"Rio, baby. We're going."