By Larry Fine
LONDON (Reuters) - Australia extended their medals streak in women's basketball to five consecutive Olympics by beating Russia 83-74 to win the bronze medal on Saturday.
Australia, who claimed silver medals in the three previous Olympics and a bronze in 1996, surged in the second quarter to grab an eight-point lead at the break and widened the gap to 17 points in the third quarter.
Russia cut the lead down to five points with 80 seconds left but the Australians repulsed the fightback to clinch the medal.
Captain Lauren Jackson led Australia with 25 points and 11 rebounds, while diminutive guard Kristi Harrower pitched in with 21 points.
The 37-year-old Harrower, whose string of free throws in the dying seconds slammed the door on Russia, was hoisted on the shoulders of her team mates Jackson and Suzy Batkovic at midcourt to mark her retirement from the Australian team.
"It was just an awesome game, an awesome sendoff for Kristi Harrower and we played our best game today," said Jackson. "I'm just proud of the way we played today."
The 5-foot-5 (1.66 m) Harrower, who like Jackson collected her fourth Olympic medal, said being carried off by team mates was an Aussie tradition.
"It is something we do in Australia, especially football players when they have played their 250th game or they are retiring, they put them on their shoulders and walk them off the ground," she said. "It was nice the girls did that today."
Becky Hammon was top scorer for Russia with 19 points.
(Additional reporting by Steve Keating; Editing by Ken Ferris/Greg Stutchbury)