The U.S. defeated France 86-50 to win its fifth straight Olympic women’s basketball title, setting a record for most consecutive Olympic gold medals in a women’s team sport.
Candace Parker, with 21 points, and team captain Sue Bird, with 11, were the only U.S. players to score more than 10 points. But all 12 players in the squad had at least three points.
The U.S. came into the game heavily favored, having won medals in every Olympic women’s basketball tournament except for 1980, when it boycotted the games in Moscow.
The Americans won their 41st straight Olympic game. France was going for its first Olympic medal in a women’s team sport, ever. The outcome was settled in the third quarter, when the Americans outscored the challengers 26-12 to pull away.
“We just wanted to come out with a lot of energy,” Parker told reporters. “We knew the French team is a great team. They didn’t get to the gold medal match without reason. We knew we couldn’t play scared.”
France started the final quarter down 28 points, and the U.S. made 67 percent of its shots in the period, making sure the European squad couldn’t get the gap below 30 in the last 8 minutes.
The Americans have won seven Olympic gold medals since the sport debuted at the Montreal Games in 1976. They placed second in 1976 and won a bronze at the 1992 Barcelona Games. It is the second Olympics for Parker and third for Bird, Tamika Catchings and Diana Taurasi.
In men’s team sports, the U.S. basketball team won seven straight titles, and India has won six in hockey.
France’s Edwige Lawson-Wade and Sandrine Gruda each scored 12 points.
Australia defeated Russia 83-74 for the bronze, winning a women’s basketball medal in its fifth consecutive games.
Members of the French team, which beat Russia to reach the final, said they were pleased with outcome silver medal.
“I feel so good, so happy, so excited,” France’s Emmeline Ndongue said. “There is so much joy here. This is four years of hard work. We are so proud to be here.”