With the team’s 86-50 victory over France, the 2012 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team captured the USA’s fifth consecutive gold medal on Saturday, their 41st straight Olympic victory. Candice Parker led the way with a double-double, 21 and 11.
Team USA lead by only five after the first quarter vs. France, twelve at the half. The U.S. went on a 20-1 run in the third quarter to outscore France 26-12 and the celebrations started early.
Tamika Catchings said the Americans “just wanted to keep that legacy going.”
Coming into the gold medal game, France was unbeaten and it showed as they stayed with the U.S. for the first 12 minutes before the 6 foot 4 Parker took over. She scored eight straight points during a 13-2 run that gave the U.S. a 37-23 advantage.
LONDON, England (Aug. 11, 2012) – Owning a comfortable 12-point lead at halftime over previously unbeaten France (7-1), the U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team (8-0) blew the game wide open with a 19-0 run in the third quarter that propelled the USA to a 86-50 win and a fifth-straight Olympic gold medal on Saturday evening at North Greenwich Arena in London, England.
In capturing its unprecedented fifth-straight Olympic gold (dating back to 1996), a feat never before accomplished in any women’s traditional team sport, the USA women have compiled a 41-game Olympic winning streak that began with the 1992 bronze medal game.
“You know, you go into every game thinking that there’s going to be some things that you have to do, and if you do those things you’re going to have a chance you can win it,” said Geno Auriemma , USA and University of Connecticut head coach. “France was probably playing as well as anytime I’ve ever seen them, since I’ve been the coach anyway. And when you’re going into it the way they’re playing, they got a lot of confidence. And we tried to really disrupt them and get them into the kind of game they weren’t comfortable playing, and I think we did that right from the beginning.
“When Candace Parker came in the game, the game changed completely,” Auriemma continued. “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.”
“I don’t remember who scored what points or how many rebounds you had,” said Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks). “You just remember you won a gold medal and who was on your team. I think that this is just so sweet to get the second one. I was told a lot that Michael Jordan, when he was playing in Chicago, always said it’s easy – well, it’s not easy – but you can stumble on a championship once, but it’s really hard to do it twice. And for USA Basketball to do it five times in a row, that’s truly special.”
Shooting 10-of-14 from the field on her way to 21 points, Parker also grabbed 11 rebounds, and Sue Bird (Seattle Storm) added 11 points. All 12 U.S. players scored in a balanced attack that featured 22 assists on 34 made field goals.
“I think our depth is by far the biggest key for us,” Bird said. “We are able to wear teams down. 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.”
The gold medal is a third for Bird, Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury), who added nine points and six assists, and Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever), who finished with four points and five rebounds.
“Even if you win a game by 30, if you win by 10, the whole process is really difficult to try to get 12 really good players to kind of just buy into one thing,” Taurasi said. “It takes awhile; it takes a lot of effort. By the end of it, I think we succeeded in what we wanted to do, we were lucky enough to win a gold medal doing it.”
While Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky) and Parker also earned gold in 2008, Swin Cash (Chicago Sky) picked up her first gold medal in 2004. Earning Olympic gold for their first time were: Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun), Asjha Jones (Connecticut Sun), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx) and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx).
With her Olympic gold, Moore becomes the seventh U.S. woman to have earned NCAA and WNBA titles, a FIBA World Championship gold medal and an Olympic gold medal. The previous six include Bird, Cash, Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes, Taurasi and Kara Wolters.
“It’s hard,” Moore said of blending together as a team. “That’s why team sports are so much fun to watch because it’s really an artwork of a game of how can you fit these pieces together knowing that anyone of us could score 30 if we had to, but we don’t have to. So it’s kind of hard to do what you are usually not called on to do. But we made it work and it was beautiful.”