By Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY
LONDON - France coach Pierre Vincent said his women's basketball team was carried by magic forces into the gold medal game.
To beat the USA on Saturday, France needed more than magic, much more.
The USA captured its fifth consecutive gold medal with an 86-50 victory against France, extending its Olympic winning streak to 41 games. The last Olympics loss came in the 1992 Barcelona Games. The USA is 58-3 since women's basketball was added to the Olympics program in 1976, an amazing run of dominance. That includes seven gold medals.
The USA started slow against France, caught up a frenzied pace that yielded turnovers and sloppy play. But in the second quarter, the USA settled into its game, led by Candace Parker, who had 15 of game-high 21 points and nine of her 11 game-high rebounds in the first half.
Sue Bird added 11 points and three assists. Diana Taurasi had nine points and six assists, and Maya Moore had six points and seven rebounds for the USA.
All 12 American players scored.
The USA ensured it would win gold with a dominating third quarter, outscoring France 26-12 and taking a 63-37 lead into the final 10 minutes. The USA put full-court pressure on France, limiting clever point guard Celine Dumerc's ability to effectively run France's offense. The pressure forced France into 28% shooting from the field.
France nonetheless earned its first women's basketball medal, taking silver.
Earlier in the day, Australia defeated Russia 83-74 to win bronze. The Aussies have won five medals in a row, including three times losing to the Americans in the gold medal game. Here, Australia gave the USA its toughest game, losing by 13 points in Thursday's semifinal.