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Solid semifinal pits U.S. women against Australia

Candace Parker and the U.S. face Australia in semifinals. (Associated Press)
Candace Parker and the U.S. face Australia in semifinals. (Associated Press)

LONDON – When the U.S. and Australia meet in women’s basketball at the Olympics it’s usually for the gold medal.

The top two teams in the world have met in the last three Olympic finals, but today they’ll square off in the semifinals for the first time since the 1996 Atlanta Games.

The medal count: The Americans have won four consecutive gold medals, Australia three silver and a bronze.

“Honestly, it doesn’t really matter when we play them,” U.S. guard Diana Taurasi said. “We just focus on who’s in front of us.”

Nobody has posed a challenge to the U.S. on its road to an eighth straight semifinals appearance. The four-time defending Olympic champions have won their six tournament games by an average of 38 points. Teams have been able to hang with them for a half, but the U.S. depth eventually wears opponents down.

They expect a stiffer test from Australia, although the U.S. has won all six of its previous Olympic meetings against the Australians by at least double digits – including a 27-point win in the 2008 gold medal game.

“We’re operating on a lot of good cylinders right now,” U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said. “That could change. It’s all about making shots in the Olympics. We’re not going to keep Lauren Jackson and Liz Cambage from getting shots.”

While the Americans have their own talented trio of posts with Sylvia Fowles, Candace Parker and Tina Charles to matchup with Australia’s size, Auriemma feels the guards will be the key.

Prime time TV

NBC (8 p.m.-11:05 p.m.): Track and field: gold medal finals in men’s 200m, decathlon, men’s 800m, men’s triple jump. Diving: Women’s platform gold medal final. Volleyball: Men’s beach gold medal final. Cycling: Men’s BMX quarterfinals.

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