The US women's baketball team celebrate their victory for the gold medal on August 23, 2008. [Xinhua]
The defending champions United States won their fourth consecutive Olympic women's basketball gold medal on Saturday, beating Australia 92-65 in the third final between two sides since the 2000 Olympics.
It's the biggest margin for the United States to win over the Australians in their three Olympic finals. The American edged Australia 74-63 in 2004 and 76-54 in 2000.
The United States also took the gold medal in 1996 after defeating Brazil 111-87. Brazil placed 11th this time.
"It's been a blessing for me to be out on this court. It's my fourth Olympics and my fourth gold," said Lisa Leslie. "I haven't necessarily played great during this tournament."
The United States broke the open and jumped out to a 14-13 lead on Kara Lawson's two free throws, leading the first quarter 22-15.
It seemed the showdown would be a lopsided one when the defending champions expanded the margin to 47-30 after the halftime. Each time the Australian threatened, the Americans pulled away again.
The United States outshot the Australians 63 percent to 22 in the first half with Lawson, who came off the bench, scoring 11 of her 15 points. Belinda Snell hit 15 of her game points at halftime for the poor shooting Aussie.
The Australian fought back, outscoring the U.S. 18-12 to draw within 12 points capped by Lauren Jackson's 3-pointers with 4:55 minutes remaining in the third quarter. But Tina Thompson's two free throws led the Americans a 10-7 run to finish the quarter 67-54.
With four minutes to go, the U.S. built an 84-61 lead and the Australians weren't closer than 21 points after that.
Lisa Leslie and Candace Parker scored 14 points each, followed by Syliva Fowles's 13 for the U.S., who outshot Australia 59 percent to 25.
Jackson led the Australian with a game-high 20 points and 10 rebounds. Snell was Australia's one of two double digits scorer with 15. Penny Taylor, the MVP of the 2006 World Championships who injured her ankle in in Tuesday's quarterfinals, scored 7 points from 1-of-7 field goal in her 22 minutes playing time.
"America was better than us tonight," Jackson said. "They are number one, we're number two. We tried hard to get there, but that's the way it goes."
In the final for the bronze medal, Russia beat China to regain the medal. China finished fourth, the best result since the 1992 Olympic Games when they took the silver medal.
(Xinhua News Agency August 23, 2008)