The U.S. capped a perfect run in the Olympics with an 86-50 win over France in the gold medal game Saturday. Both teams came into the game undefeated in the competition. The U.S. has not lost a game in the Olympics since falling to the Unified Team in the 1992 Games. They are now 41-0.
After a tight first quarter, the U.S. broke away from France and went into the break with a 12-point lead, 37-25. Early in the third, the victory seemed a foregone conclusion as the U.S. dominated and entered the fourth quarter leading 63-37.
All 12 players on the team scored in the game. Candace Parker paced the U.S. with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Sue Bird was also in double figures with 11 points.
Parker called the history-making streak of USA Basketball “truly special.” She attributed her performance to coming into the game with the mindset to play with a lot of energy.
“I think I was a little disappointed in the last game with my energy,” said Parker. “I think I could play with a lot more energy and that’s what coach wants. Just come in with energy and not play scared and if you miss shots that’s ok as long as you bring a lot of energy.”
Head coach Geno Auriemma attributed her play with sparking the U.S. win.
“When Candace Parker came in the game, the game changed completely,” said Auriemma. “You know, I thought she was the biggest difference in the game tonight. We all just kind of took that and ran with it. We beat a really good team, but we’re a great team.”
Sue Bird praised her team’s depth and energy down the stretch.
“We are able to wear teams down,” said Bird. Not very many teams go 12 deep and with that over a two-week tournament, these teams have to play a lot of minutes … seven, eight players play a lot of minutes, and I think none of us have to. So we are just able to wear teams down and by the end for the most part you can see teams get tired, and that’s where we really capitalize.”
For the French, Sandrine Gruda and Edwidge Lawson-Wade had 12 points each. France came into the game ranked eighth in the world. It was the second appearance in the Olympics for “Les Bleus” women’s basketball and the silver is their first-ever medal.
Australia beat Russia, 83-74, in the bronze medal game earlier today. Lauren Jackson led the Opals with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Kristi Harrower finished her basketball career with 21 points. She announced her retirement earlier this year. Suzy Batkovic contributed 17 points and 8 rebounds
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