Host City: London, Great Britain
Venue(s): Basketball Arena, Olympic Park, Stratford, London; North Greenwich Arena, Greenwich, London
Date Started: July 28, 2012
Date Finished: August 11, 2012
Format: Round-robin pools advance teams to classification matches.
The United States had won the last four gold medals in women’s basketball and was heavily favored to make that five in London. They had won the 2010 World Championship, and their team was basically an All-Star team from the WNBA, the world’s top women’s league. Their biggest competition was expected to come from Australia, which had won medals at the last four Olympics, and was led by WNBA star Lauren Jackson. In group play the US was unchallenged, winning every game by at least 25 points. But Australia was upset by France in Group B, forcing them into a semi-final match-up with the United States.
The USA-Australia semi was close for three quarters, with Australia leading at the half, 47-43. But the US pulled ahead in the third quarter, leading 65-59 going into the final stanza, and eventually won comfortably, 86-73. In the other semi, France continued their upset ways, defeating Russia 81-64 to advance to the final. The final was a rout, with the USA using a 21-1 third quarter burst to win 86-50, despite US coach Geno Auriemma backing off in the final quarter, as Candace Parker led the US with 21 points and 11 rebounds. It was the fifth consecutive gold medal in the sport for the United States’ women, the most ever in a women’s team sport at the Olympics, and their seventh all-time, also winning in 1984 and 1988. Australia won the bronze medal match to stand on the podium for the fifth straight Olympics.