ATHENS, GREECE – Rutgers women’s basketball head coach C. Vivian Stringer and the 2004 U.S. Women’s Basketball Olympic Team used a fourth-quarter surge to defeat Australia 74-63 and win the Olympic gold medal Aug. 28. Stringer served as an assistant coach for the U.S. team at the Athens Games.
It was a competitive game throughout, as the U.S. and Australia several times traded the lead. Trailing 50-48 late in the third quarter, the Americans put together a 13-1 run to lead by 10 (61-51) and take control of the game. Scoring from the bench and intense defense keyed the Americans to the victory, making the U.S. the first country to win three consecutive gold medals in the event (1996, 2000, 2004).
The U.S. held Australian star Lauren Jackson, who was averaging 24.4 points per game at the Olympics, to 4-for-16 shooting and 12 points. The Americans also received some timely scoring from Dawn Staley (14 points) and Tina Thompson (team-best 18 points), as well as 12 points off the bench from Shannon Johnson.
The U.S. has now won 25 consecutive Olympic games, including a perfect 8-0 mark at the Athens Games.
Stringer was one of three assistant coaches working with head coach Van Chancellor at the Games. She was making her sixth lifetime appearance on the sideline for USA Basketball. An assistant coach for the 1980 R. William Jones Cup Team (China) that earned a bronze medal, she then served as head coach of the 1982 U.S. Olympic Festival East Team (Indianapolis, IN) that won the bronze medal, the silver-medal winning 1985 World University Games Team (Kobe, Japan), the 1989 World Championship Qualifying Team (Sao Paulo, Brazil) that earned a berth in the 1990 FIBA World Championship, and the 1991 Pan American Games Team (Havana, Cuba) that claimed the bronze medal.
Stringer, who will begin her 33rd season on the college sidelines this fall, owns the fourth-highest victory total in women’s college basketball history (695-239), including a 175-104 mark in her nine seasons at Rutgers. A member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, the three-time national coach of the year remains the only coach, men’s or women’s, to lead three different schools to the NCAA Tournament Final Four (Cheyney in 1982, Iowa in 1993 and Rutgers in 2000).