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Tina Charles battles for the ball against France in the gold medal game at the London Olympics Saturday.
The U.S. women's basketball team leads France 63-37 going to the 4th quarter of their gold medal match after a frantic first half.
The American women are expected to win their fifth straight gold medal, but the French women have fought hard.
France is undefeated in the tournament like the U.S. although the Americans have beaten teams by 34 points a game, France just eight.
Both teams are assured of walking away with at least the silver medal, but anything less than gold for the Americans would be considered a monumental failure.
The Americans have cruised through the Olympics during their remarkable run. Only one team has come within single digits of them since the streak started in 1996. They've won by nearly 30 points a game. The Americans have only lost once in major international competitions since 1996 with the lone blemish coming against Russia in the semifinals of the 2006 world championships.
The U.S. faced its first challenge of the London Games when Australia took a four-point halftime lead. It was the first time in 12 years that the Americans had been trailing at the half. There was no panic or worry. They just stepped up their defense and vanquished the Aussies, winning by 13 points.
The players are very aware of the legacy.
"This is USA Basketball's streak," Candace Parker said. "We're just trying not to be the people that end it. I want a second gold medal. There are people that want a third. And some are looking for their first. So all of us are fighting for something in our own way."
France already has made great strides — clinching its first medal in women's basketball.
The victory over Russia in the semifinals set off a wild celebration for the unbeaten French, who have been on the rise in women's basketball over the past few years. They won the European Championship in 2009 and qualified for the Olympics for the first time since the 2000 Sydney Games where they finished fifth. In this tournament France has already defeated Australia in an overtime thriller and now topped Russia twice.
A win over the Americans would be incredible.
"Nobody talks about us. We don't exist in the Olympic Village," said French coach Pierre Vincent. "The only way to exist is to win. I told the girls in the locker room, if we win, we will exist."
The French have been led by flashy point guard Celine Dumerc. She has been the catalyst for this remarkable run. Her 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds remaining in overtime helped beat Britain in the preliminary round. She also hit a big 3-pointer against Australia and two clinching free throws in the team's four-point win over Canada.
"She's having a tournament for the ages," U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said of Dumerc. "She's definitely been the MVP."
About half the players on the Olympic team are UConn alums, who have worked for years with coach Geno Auriemma and are used to his system and his personality.
"Coach really hasn't changed much," said Diana Taurasi, who helped Auriemma win three NCAA titles in college. "He's the same guy, just gives us a little more freedom now that we're older and pros. He listens to us more. Everyone knows what coach has done for women's basketball. He brought a different point of view to things.
"It's not all flowery, flowery women's basketball. It's not just skirts and cupcakes. Sometimes there's some steak and cussing. That's life, it's not all that pretty."
Taurasi fully supports Auriemma and said if the Americans win the gold medal the first thing she'll do is "put it around his neck. That's how much he means to me."