BEIJING Lisa Leslie and the U.S. women's basketball team were once again too good for Australia at the Olympics.
Leslie capped off her illustrious Olympic career with a fourth straight gold medal, scoring 14 points in a 92-65 victory against Australia on Saturday night. She joined former teammate Teresa Edwards as the only basketball players ever to win four gold medals.
"It's a blessing for me to be out on this floor, now participating in my fourth Olympics and walking away with a fourth gold medal," Leslie said.
Russia took the bronze medal, beating host China 94-81 as Becky Hammon scored 22 points.
The Aussies have now lost to the Americans in the gold medal game in the past three Olympics, with all three defeats coming by double-digit margins.
"We weren't going to be the team to let Lisa lose," said Candace Parker, who added 14 points. "We wouldn't let her Olympic career end that way."
Australia figured this was its best shot to beat the Americans. Penny Taylor and Erin Phillips missed the first half of the WNBA season to train for the Beijing Games. Lauren Jackson left the Seattle Storm two weeks before the Olympic break to join her teammates.
Even with their extra training and Taylor returning to the starting lineup after missing the semifinals with a sprained right ankle, the Australians just couldn't match the U.S. team's depth. The American reserves outscored the Aussies 59-11.
"We've said from day one that top to bottom we are a deep team," said Kara Lawson, who led the U.S. with 15 points. "We just send wave after wave of players at you."
She was 5-for-5 from the field and helped the American reserves outscore Australia's 59-11.
"We weren't going to be the team to let Lisa lose," said Parker, who added 14 points. "We wouldn't let her Olympic career end that way."
Trailing 13-10 late in the first quarter, U.S. coach Anne Donovan inserted her second unit, led by Lawson. Once again, the bench delivered just as it had throughout the Olympics with Lawson scoring the first six points of a 12-2 run to close the quarter as the U.S. took a 22-15 lead.
Then Parker, who has had a relatively quiet Olympics averaging only 8.7 points, took over. She scored eight of the Americans' 10 points to open the second quarter, including two three-point plays. On her second, the 6-foot-4 forward took the ball from the top of the key, dribbled through her legs and drove to the basket for a layup a play that thrilled the U.S. men's basketball players in the stands and brought a standing ovation from LeBron James.
Lawson closed the half with five straight points to give the U.S. a 47-30 lead, capping the Americans' most impressive half in Beijing. The U.S. shot 63 percent (19-for-30) and held the Aussies to just 22 percent (8-for-37).
Jackson tried her best to rally Australia in the third quarter, but the Aussies could get no closer than 12 in the second half. Jackson finished with a game-high 20 points to lead Australia.
"You can't shoot less than 40 percent and expect to win gold medals," said Australia coach Jan Stirling after her team shot 19-for-76 (25 percent) from the field.
Leslie ended her Olympic career by fouling out with 6:33 left in the game. She left to a loud ovation from the crowd and hugged her teammates.
The U.S. has won 33 straight games in the Olympics with the last loss coming to the Unified team in the semifinals of the 1992 Barcelona Games.