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Beijing Olympics: Basketball women take gold for US

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.

Australia figured this was its best shot to beat the Americans as Penny Taylor and Erin Phillips missed the first half of the WNBA season so that they could train for the Beijing Games. Lauren Jackson left the Seattle Storm two weeks before the Olympic break so she could 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 Americans' depth.

'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 Candace Parker, who added 14 points. 'We wouldn't let her Olympic career end that way.'

Track and field

Sanya Richards took the baton for the final lap of the 1,600-meter relay with the U.S. in second place. Three turns later, Richards remained several strides behind, yet another disappointment looming.

Then, she made her move.

Richards steamed through the fourth and final turn and caught the front-runner heading into the stretch. The Russian leader looked at the stadium monitor to see Richards closing on her, but couldn't do anything about it. Richards ended up far enough ahead to throw a celebratory punch and scream, 'Yes!' before crossing the line.

It didn't make up for a different set of U.S. women dropping the baton in qualifying for the sprint relay, but it did keep alive a streak of going home with at least one relay gold at every Olympics since 1984.

There was far less drama in the men's version - which was to be expected considering the U.S. went 1-2-3 in the 400. With those guys on board, the Americans won in an Olympic-record time. The U.S. has now won that race at seven straight Olympics. It, too, helped erase the disappointment of a flub in the sprint relay.

The relay golds were Nos. 32 and 33 for the United States, with the women's basketball making it No. 34 Saturday night. The women's volleyball team had a shot at gold, too, but lost to Brazil.

The U.S. medal count will be at 107, closing in on the most won at an Olympics not on home turf. Americans also won 107 in Mexico City in 1968, and had 108 in Barcelona in 1992.

China remains second in total medals with 96 and first in golds with 49. The Chinese wrapped up a sweep of every table tennis medal, but were thwarted in their bid to take all eight diving golds when Australia's Matthew Mitcham won the men's 10-meter platform.

Baseball

It came down to the bottom of the ninth, with Cuba facing a one-run deficit. The bases were loaded with one out.

The pitch, the swing ... double play. Game over. Gold medal for South Korea, finishing the tournament unbeaten with a 3-2 victory in the final Olympic baseball game until at least 2016.

If indeed baseball never returns to the Olympic agenda, at least the United States can say it went out a winner.

Behind home runs by Matt LaPorta, Matt Brown and Jason Donald, the Americans beat Japan 8-4 to claim the bronze medal. LaPorta returned after missing a few days following a concussion sustained when a pitch hit him in the head. Jayson Nix had a hit and scored a run in his first game back since a week ago Friday, when he fouled a ball off his left eye and underwent microsurgery.

Women's volleyball

The U.S. gals had all sorts of emotions, from their coach Jenny Lang Ping being in her hometown, where she remains a star, to the attack on the parents of former player Elisabeth 'Wiz' Bachman McCutcheon, wife of the U.S. men's coach.

They rode the wave to the finals. But the Brazilians proved to be too tough.

Brazil won a tight and tense deciding set to defeat the U.S., 25-18, 18-25, 25-13, 25-21, and finish the Olympic tournament without a loss.

Diving

The Chinese divers came close, but they couldn't match Michael Phelps' feat of going 8-for-8 at the Water Cube.

With seven down, all they needed was the men's 10-meter platform. But Matthew Mitcham of Australia earned four perfect 10s on his last dive to send this title Down Under for the first time. Zhou Luxin earned the silver for China.