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U.S. women cagers win third straight gold

August 28, 2004 21:08 IST

U.S. women took their third consecutive gold medal in Olympic basketball on Saturday, breaking open a close game in the fourth quarter to beat Australia 74-63.

In a rematch of the final at the Sydney Games, the Aussies were looking for their first win in a major tournament against the Americans, having lost their 12 previous matchups.

The Americans jumped out to an early lead and went into the locker room at the half up by three points.

But Australia, who like the U.S. went 7-0 in the tournament to reach the final, got off to a quick start in the second half, using a 5-0 run to take the lead.

The score was tied at 50-50 in the dying seconds of the third quarter when Shannon Johnson's basket sparked an 11-1 run to give the Americans a lead they never relinquished.

Tina Thompson led the Americans with 18 points and Lisa Leslie had 13, leaving her just three points shy of becoming the most prolific scorer in women's finals history.

Australia got 16 points from Penny Taylor, but Lauren Jackson, the team's leading scorer through the tournament, had an off night.

Jackson, the 2003 WNBA most valuable player, netted only 12 points after averaging over 24 points in the first seven games, hitting only four of 16 field goal attempts. She had a strong game on the boards, however, pulling down 14 rebounds.

Earlier Russia downed Brazil 71-62 to win the bronze medal.

The Russians fought off a fourth quarter comeback by Brazil to win.

Diana Gustlina led the way for Russia with 12 points while Iziane Marques had 16 for Brazil.

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