By Larry Fine
LONDON (Reuters) - The United States extended their long reign in Olympic women's basketball by claiming their fifth successive gold medal by beating France 86-50 at the London Games on Saturday.
The victory ensured the Americans extended their Olympic winning streak to 41 games dating back 20 years to their bronze medal at the 1992 Barcelona Games.
France, who were playing in their first women's Olympic basketball final, took the silver medal, while Australia earlier claimed the bronze with an 83-74 victory over Russia.
France kept it close in the first quarter of the final, trailing 20-15 going into the second quarter after holding an early 13-11 lead.
Sparked by Candace Parker, who scored off offensive rebounds and at the front of fast breaks in totaling 11 points in the quarter, the Americans scored nine successive points to carry a 37-25 lead into halftime.
With Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul of the U.S. men's team cheering them on, the U.S. women came out after the break and applied full court pressure, which rattled France and sparked 19-unanswered points that blew the lead out to 62-32 as the European side went nearly six minutes without scoring.
Parker scored 21 points to led the U.S. attack, while Sandrine Gruda and Edwige Lawson-Wade scored 12 points each for France.
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)