The Pitt women’s basketball team put together its most complete performance of the season Monday night as all five starters reached double digits in points.
Pitt, 4-0, cruised to a 74-44 victory over the Loyola Maryland Greyhounds, 2-3, Monday at the Petersen Events Center, led by standout performances from sophomore forwards Kauai Bradley and Brenna Wise. The Panthers won their first four games for the first time since the 2009-10 season, when they started 8-0.
“No matter who we’re playing, I think for us to be successful, we need a balanced scoring attack,” Pitt head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio said. “We don’t have that one go-to player that’s going to put up 20-something points a game … any time you can get all five [starters] in double figures, it’s amazing.”
Wise hit a 3-pointer to put the first points on the board for Pitt, then junior guard Aysia Bugg drained a jumper while drawing a foul to make it 6-0. A pair of buckets by 6-foot-4 center Brandi Harvey-Carr extended Pitt’s run to 10-0 to start the game.
Unable to get anything going inside, Loyola Maryland put up a pair of 3-pointers to decrease the deficit to 13-6. Bradley responded with a layup, but Greyhound guard Alexis Gray nailed her second long-range 3-pointer of the game to bring Loyola within six.
First-year point guard Jasmine Whitney added to the Panthers’ lead with her first basket of the night, and with a little over four minutes left in the first quarter, all five of Pitt’s starters had scored.
Layups by Bradley and sophomore forward Kalista Walters pushed Pitt’s advantage to 12, but the Greyhounds found holes in the Panthers’ defense and mounted a fierce run to cut the score to 21-16.
Whitney rallied and made a three, then Gray responded with her third triple of the game for Loyola. But Whitney answered by fighting through the Greyhounds’ defense for a layup to end the first quarter with Pitt ahead, 26-19.
“We knew coming in, we said it on the scouting report: 3-point shooter with deep range. And two of them were really deep,” McConnell-Serio said about preparing for Gray. “Just making sure after she hit three in the first quarter, we just adjusted and knew where she was at all times.”
While Loyola appeared ready to give the Panthers a fight, the second quarter turned the game into a mismatch.
Walters started the night off for the Panthers with the first points of the quarter, then forward Destinie Gibbs tallied her first two points off the bench. Walters and Bradley added another pair of layups with Bradley drawing a foul and completing a three-point play to make it 35-19.
After pulling down an offensive rebound, Wise converted a putback for Pitt with defenders swatting at the ball to make it a 20-point lead. The 6-foot sophomore then drilled a 2-point and 3-point jumper to extend it to 25.
After keeping Loyola from scoring for almost nine minutes, the Greyhounds put up their only points of the second quarter with 1:07 left in the half on a jumper from first-year guard Molly Taylor. Bradley made up for a missed jump shot by hitting a triple from long range, and at the end of the first half, the Panthers had more than doubled the Greyhounds’ score at 47-21.
“It was exciting. The whole team [was] coming out with fire, energy,” Bradley said after the game.
The game may have seemed out of reach, but Loyola put together a strong third quarter to keep it competitive.
“We didn’t come out and defend very well in the third quarter where we were missing shots, weren’t getting offensive rebounds and just weren’t defending,” McConnell-Serio said.
Forward Lauren Daugherty drained a quick jumper to start the second half with two points for the Greyhounds. Loyola’s momentum was short-lived, though, as Pitt quickly followed with a jump shot from Harvey-Carr and a layup from Bradley to make it 51-23.
Whitney moved quickly on her feet, easily finding and intercepting Loyola’s passes, and another layup from Wise made it a 30-point game. But Greyhounds guard Maria Kilcullen sparked an 11-1 run with a 3-pointer, and a series of foul shots and jumpers decreased the deficit to 20 by the end of the quarter.
Harvey-Carr proved her power in the paint early in the final quarter, ripping down a defensive rebound after an unsuccessful Loyola shot. Bradley made her second three of the night, and Harvey-Carr’s layup increased the Panthers’ lead to 60-34.
Bugg and Harvey-Carr then added seven more points to the scoreboard while the Greyhounds added a triple, again pushing Pitt’s lead to 30 at 67-37. The teams traded shots in the final minutes, but the game ended in a 30-point victory for the Panthers, 74-44.
Bradley led the team with 16 points while Wise contributed 14 points and 10 rebounds for her second double-double of the season.
“I think we played great,” Wise said. “Always room for improvement. We got outscored in the third quarter … we want to continue to make progress and get better.”
Pitt will next host Slippery Rock at the Pete in an afternoon matchup at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 23.