- Associated Press - Saturday, August 11, 2012

LONDON — Expected to dominate, they did.

All those style points were a bonus.

The U.S. women’s basketball team routed France 86-50 in the final Saturday, winning their fifth straight Olympic gold medal and putting more distance between themselves and the rest of the world heading to Rio for the 2016 Games.

Candace Parker scored 21 points, including eight straight during the game-changing run in the second quarter as the U.S. took command of the game.

“It’s not easy to just be put together and be expected to win a gold medal,” said guard Diana Taurasi. “It’s a special feeling.”

The win was the latest in this dominant run that the Americans have been on over the past 16 years. The U.S. has now won 41 consecutive games in the Olympics since taking the bronze medal in 1992.

The Americans haven’t just been winning, they’ve been blowing past opponents. Only one team has come within single digits of them since the streak started in 1996. They’ve won by nearly 30 points a game. The U.S. has only lost once in major international competitions since 1996, against Russia in the semifinals of the 2006 world championship.

The names change on the U.S. uniforms, but the results don’t.

Teresa Edwards, Dawn Staley, Sheryl Swoopes and Lisa Leslie got the amazing run started and now Taurasi, Sue Bird and Tamika Catchings have continued it.

With young stars Parker, Maya Moore and Tina Charles a big part of the success in London it doesn’t look like the run will end anytime soon.

Catchings said the Americans “just wanted to keep that legacy going.”

Edwards, a five-time Olympian, said no worry there.

“The legacy is real,” said Edwards, who had a front-row seat Saturday night. “What these kids have been doing is amazing. Without much time to practice. In the middle of the WNBA season. And they look good. It’s like the whole world knows who we are. I’m really proud of them.

“They’re definitely among some of the best” U.S. teams.

The U.S. faced its only challenge of the London Games when Australia took a four-point halftime lead. It was the first time in 12 years that the Americans had been trailing at the half. There was no panic or worry. They just stepped up their defense and vanquished the Aussies, winning by 13 points.

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