University of Connecticut sophomore Crystal Dangerfield has seen enough opponents celebrate in the last six months to last her a lifetime.
On March 31, it was Mississippi State that charged the court after its upset in the NCAA Final Four semifinals ended the Huskies' 111-game winning streak and four-year reign as national champion.
Then Sunday, Dangerfield and her United States teammates watched Russia grab the gold at the FIBA U-19 World Cup. The 6-foot-4 duo of Raisa Musina and Maria Vadeeva combined for 59 points and 29 rebounds as Russia ended Team USA's U-19 run with an 86-82 victory in the championship game in Udine, Italy.
"Every time we would get a lead, they would find a way to answer it and go on a run of their own," Dangerfield said. "They played until the last buzzer went off. It was kind of like 2015 just going back and forth, but it was just a different outcome."
Dangerfield was hoping to join former UConn stars Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck, South Carolina All-American A'ja Wilson and ex-Baylor guard Alexis Jones in an exclusive club with two U-19 world championship gold medals. The Murfeesboro, Tennessee, native was a member of the USA team that beat Russia 78-70 in the 2015 final in Chekhov, Russia.
Instead, the Americans saw their 25-game winning streak dating back to a pool-play loss to Canada in 2011 snapped. It was also the first time since the 2001 team coached by UConn's Geno Auriemma and led by Huskies star Diana Taurasi lost in the medal round. The Americans fell to the host Czech Republic in the semifinals before bouncing back to beat Australia for the bronze.
Dangerfield knew Sunday that Russia wanted revenge for 2015.
"I could definitely feel it after, especially in their celebration, just knowing that was fresh on their minds," she said. "They wanted to be on the other side at the end of this game."
Musina and Vadeeva were on that losing end in 2015. They each have three seasons of professional basketball under their belt, two in the EuroCup and the 2016-17 season in the EuroLeague.
The Americans had no answer for them Sunday. Musina finished with 33 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists for Russia while Vadeeva added 26 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks.
Vadeeva, the event's leading scorer (18.4) and rebounder (14) was named tournament MVP. Joining her on the all-tournament team were Musina, Chennedy Carter and Tyasha Harris of the United States, and Canada's Laeticia Amihere.
"It was just a great game. Russia is really good," Team USA coach Suzie McConnell Serio said. "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."
Carter, a freshman at Texas A&M, had a USA U-19-record 31 points. Dangerfield scored 10 of her 15 points in the first quarter.
Sunday's final featured 24 lead changes. Team USA's largest lead was eight points, Russia's six.
The Americans led 22-17 after one quarter and 42-36 at halftime. Russia surged to take a 62-60 edge entering the fourth quarter.
Team USA scored the first five points of the final period to go back in front, but Russia answered with two 3-pointers by Daria Kurilchuk and a hoop by Vadeeva to lead by five. The Americans then responded with eight unanswered points with back-to-back layups by Carter, giving Team USA a 73-70 lead with 4:56 to go.
University if Oregon sophomore Ruthy Hebard gave the Americans their last lead at 75-74 with 3:23 left. With Russia up one, Musina scored five straight points to make it 83-77 with 42 seconds remaining. Three free throws by Carter cut it to 84-82 with 13 seconds to go, and the Americans sent Vika Zavialova to the line three seconds later. Zavialova, who had not scored Sunday and was 4-for-6 at the foul line in the tournament, sank both tries to make it a two-possession game. Dangerfield and Carter missed 3-pointers as time ran out.
Hebard, Team USA's second-leading scorer, had just four points in 20 foul-plagued minutes Sunday.
"In the first half we were hitting our shots, we were executing and scoring and defending," McConnell-Serio said. "Then we got in some foul trouble with Ruthy and I think that hurt us because she has been so solid at both ends of the floor for us throughout this tournament.
"It was a game of runs. Russia made a run, and we seemed to answer. 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."
It's the first U-19 gold medal for Russia since 1989, when it was the Soviet Union.
UConn freshman Megan Walker, coming off a solid effort in Saturday's semifinals against Japan, had three points in just four minutes Sunday. UConn Class of 2018 recruiting target Christyn Williams did not score in her three minutes of action.
For the tournament, Dangerfield averaged 9.0 points on 29.3 percent shooting from the floor, 3.7 assists, and 1.6 steals in 26.0 minutes. Walker averaged 7.6 points on 41.4 percent shooting from the floor and 3.3 rebounds in 14.7 minutes. Williams averaged 3.2 points and 1.7 rebounds in 8.3 minutes.
Dangerfield and Walker will head home for a short time before returning to UConn to prepare for the Huskies' tour of Italy that begins Aug. 12.
Canada earned the bronze medal Sunday with a 67-60 win over Japan.