Pitt women's head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio and her USA U19 Team had been chugging along through the World Cup with little competition. Team USA was undefeated in the event but also faced an undefeated Russia team in the final. Russia pulled out an 86-82 victory on Sunday to win the event.
For the Americans, it ended a long winning streak of gold medals. They hadn't lost the event in that age group since 2001 when they finished third. Team USA has dominated the competition winning the gold medal seven times out of the 12 it was played.
The loss against Russia isn't quite the same magnitude as when the Dream Team loses a game at the Olympics but it is an upset given how much Team USA has dominated the event lately. Most of the Americans' losses in the tournament were in the earlier years in the 1980s. Since 1997 when they won their first gold medal, they've had a stranglehold on the games. This was only the second time since they (the other being 2001, as mentioned) when they didn't win gold.
McConnell-Serio talked after the game and was pleased with the team's effort.
"It was just a great game," said USA U19 and University of Pittsburgh head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio. "Russia is really good. They are very talented. They have two great players that made play after play. We tried a number of different things. We played hard. I give our players credit - they played their hearts out. I'm proud of their effort. They never quit."
The game featured 24 lead changes, and the USA's largest lead was only eight points, while Russia's largest lead was six points.
"It was a game of runs. Russia made a run, and we seemed to answer," said McConnell-Serio. "We gave ourselves a chance down the stretch, and we just couldn't convert. It's disappointing. We came here to win the gold. We just missed some layups and free throws that could have been the difference in the game. I'm just proud of the way our players continued to fight the entire game."
Russia lost by only eight to Team USA in the last final back in 2015 and is generally a tough out in the things. And a silver medal is still quite an achievement, obviously. But there's no doubt that there's going to be some disappointment over this one given the U.S.' dominance in the event for the past 20 years.
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