RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - Staking its claim to rank among the greatest Olympic dynasties ever assembled, the United States women's basketball team has captured its sixth consecutive Olympic gold medal and eighth in nine Games.
An overwhelming 101-72 victory over Spain in the final stretched the US Olympic win streak to 49 games since a 1992 semi-final loss. The Americans improved to 89-1 over the past 20 years in global tournaments.
Diana Taurasi and Lindsay Whalen led the US squad with 17 points each while Maya Moore added 14.
"It's pretty incredible," Taurasi said. "We had a goal to win the gold medal but there's something more to it than that.
"It's not about one person, one coach - it's about, 'How can we make this the best basketball team ever?'"
US stars Taurasi, Tamika Catchings and Sue Bird matched an Olympic basketball record with their fourth gold medals each, tying ex-US standouts Lisa Leslie and Teresa Edwards for the most golds by any player, man or woman.
Spain's silver is the first Olympic women's basketball medal secured by the Spaniards, whose best prior showing was fifth in 1992 and 2008. Serbia beat France in the bronze medal game.
The championship game was a rematch of the 2014 Women's Basketball World Cup final won by the Americans 77-64, but it more resembled the US women's 103-63 rout of Spain in a Rio group stage encounter as the US women improved to 10-0 all-time against their European rivals.
Alba Torrens, who led Spain with 18 points, scored 10 in the first eight minutes to give her team its largest lead at 17-14. The Americans answered with a 10-0 run for a 24-17 edge on a 3-pointer from Bird, back from a right knee injury.
Astou Ndour's 3-pointer pulled Spain within 27-24 but the US responded with a 14-2 run for a 41-26 edge. Taurasi made two 3-pointers in the spurt and Moore and Breanna Stewart each added four points.
Whalen sank a fast break layup at the half-time buzzer to give the Americans their largest lead yet at 49-32 and Spain never trailed by less again.
The US went on a 21-4 run in the third quarter but Spain's Silvia Dominguez sank a half-court 3-pointer at the buzzer for the biggest roar of the period, even if the US still led 81-49.
At the finish, Whalen dribbled out the final seconds as US players shook hands with their rivals, then huddled on the court to celebrate.