LONDON — Lauren Jackson became the Olympics' all-time leading women's scorer in Australia's quarterfinal victory, which clinched a berth in Thursday's semifinal against a familiar foe in Team USA.
"She's one of my good friends," Sue Bird said of her WNBA teammate in Seattle. "I'm happy for her. But I still want to beat her."
The U.S. limited Australia to 25 percent shooting and cruised to a 27-point victory for its fourth straight gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Team USA's margin of victory at these Games has been a typically robust 37.7 points.
"We know we have a standard to uphold and honor the past Olympians and be role models for the future ones," Candace Parker said. "We want to continue to play the way we were brought up in the USA Basketball system.
"I know that I have not won the four golds. For people to say this is our streak, no. This is USA Basketball's streak. We're just trying not to be the people that end that streak. 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."
The U.S. has used full-court pressure defensively and relentless depth offensively to overwhelm opponents. Australia features plenty of size in the 6-foot-5-inch Jackson, 6-4 Suzy Batkovic and 6-8 Elizabeth Cambage.
So Parker, who has been nursing a sore left ankle, and Sylvia Fowles, who has a banged-up knee, will have to augment Tina Charles inside. But this program has met every challenge over the last 20 years, starting its mind-boggling streak with a bronze medal at the 1992 Barcelona Games.
"I think back to the (2006) world championships when we lost (to Russia in the semifinals)," Tamika Catchings said. "We went into that game thinking that nobody could touch us and that we could just walk on the court and win every game.
"That was a huge learning experience. Now it's really a matter of telling the younger kids that every game is a different game. Every team is focused on winning the gold."
Nevertheless, the U.S. has owned it since 1996 and counting.