RIO DE JANEIRO — The United States women’s basketball team thumped Spain 101-72 to claim a sixth straight gold medal Saturday to rubber-stamp its credentials as one of the greatest Olympic sporting dynasties of all time.
After a sloppy start that saw Spain lead much of the opening quarter, the US finally settled into its familiar rhythm, turning a 10-0 run into a 17-point halftime lead.
From then on there was no way back for Spain as the US extended its Olympic winning streak to a staggering 49-0.
Only two other teams can claim such a run of domination in an Olympic team sport.
The US men’s basketball team earned seven consecutive gold medals from 1936-1968 while India claimed six-straight men’s field hockey titles from 1928-1956.
“It’s mind boggling when you think about it what this team has been able to accomplish, this program,” said US coach Geno Auriemma. “There is such a level of expectation, such a level of respect and it filters down. Everyone who puts that jersey on they get it. We’re doing stuff that may never be done again.”
For Spain, the silver was its first medal in Olympic women’s basketball.
Earlier, Serbia beat France 70-63 in the bronze medal game.
With the US victory Sue Bird, Tamika Catchings and Diana Taurasi joined former teammates Teresa Edwards and Lisa Leslie as the only players to win four gold medals in basketball.
Taurasi and Lindsay Whalen paced the US on the scoreboard, pouring in 17 points apiece, while Maya Moore potted 14.
Team US captain Bird, who sat out the semi-finals with a knee injury, was back in the lineup and was also non-committal about her national team future while Catchings confirmed Saturday’s gold medal game was her last.
Spain earns first Olympic basketball medal
Humbled 103-63 by the US in preliminary round play, Spain had looked determined to offer more resistance in the final, holding a 17-14 lead late in the opening quarter. But after Angel McCoughtry hit a layup and connected on two free throw attempts the US never trailed again. — Reuters