The Pitt women’s basketball team is dealing with injuries to top playmakers Yacine Diop and Alayna Gribble, but that hasn’t stopped the Panthers from rolling to a 5-0 start.
Pitt (5-0) rumbled to a 94-48 victory against Slippery Rock University (3-2) at the Petersen Events Center on Wednesday afternoon. Sophomore forward Brenna Wise led the Panthers with 18 points while graduate transfer Brandi Harvey-Carr and junior guard Aysia Bugg added 17 apiece.
“The chemistry on this team is really good, on and off the court,” Pitt head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio said. “Off the court it’s been great, and then on the court it has to constantly change because of the injuries that we’re having.”
As has been the case all season, the Panthers got off to a fast start and built an early double-digit lead.
Sophomore forward Kauai Bradley got things started by draining a three from the top of the key on the game’s first possession. Pitt’s 6-foot-4 center Harvey-Carr then converted back-to-back layups without much resistance down low.
A fastbreak layup from Bugg put the Panthers up 9-0, then an offensive rebound and tip-in from first-year guard Brooke Hinderliter gave Slippery Rock its first points of the game. But Pitt went right back on another 9-0 run with Wise acting as the driving force.
Wise hit a three-pointer from the corner, then followed a Harvey-Carr layup with a couple of free throws and a layup of her own to make it 18-2. SRU head coach Bobby McGraw called a timeout to try to stop the momentum, but Bugg nailed a jumper from the baseline out of the timeout, and another basket from Harvey-Carr made it a 20-point game late in the first quarter.
With things getting out of hand early, Hinderliter was able to end the Panthers’ 13-0 run with her second basket. Junior guard Krista Pietropola then hit SRU’s first 3-pointer of the game, but Bugg came right back with another mid-range jumper.
Some nice ball movement on Pitt’s next possession resulted in an open jumper for first-year point guard Jasmine Whitney to make it a 28-7 game at the end of the first quarter.
Sophomore forward Kalista Walters came off the bench with the Panthers’ first points in the second quarter on a contested layup. SRU responded with a jumper and a 3-pointer, but another layup from Walters pushed Pitt’s lead back to 20.
An easy layup from Wise and an uncontested 3-pointer from Bradley made it a 23-point game midway through the second quarter.
The Panthers continued to pile it with Wise leading the way. She nailed a three-pointer, then converted a three-point play after taking a bump and finishing a layup. Sophomore guard Tania Lamb came off the bench and hit a three, then Harvey Carr added a jumper and two layups to tie her career-high of 14 points in just 15 minutes of action.
Bugg nailed another mid-range jumper before the end of the half, and Pitt took a 58-26 lead into the break.
“I’m more of a pass-first type of player anyway, so them making their shots opened me up,” Bugg said. “I attribute that to my teammates.”
Harvey-Carr surpassed her career high with a free throw early in the third quarter, then continued to pad her stats with a left-handed layup in the lane. Walters converted a layup while drawing a foul for a three-point play on an assist from Harvey-Carr, making it 70-36 midway through the third quarter.
Bugg drilled a 3-pointer with a hand in her face after a timeout, then sophomore guard Madison Serio — McConnell-Serio’s daughter — hit the first 3-pointer of her college career to make it a 40-point Panthers lead.
“After I hit the first one, it definitely took a load off and didn’t make me nervous anymore,” Serio said. “But I have to thank my teammates for that one. They got me the ball.”
Serio tallied two more triples before the game was over, finishing with a career-high nine points.
“I’d like those to come in ACC play,” McConnell-Serio said about Harvey-Carr and Serio’s milestones. “That’s when I’d really like to see those career-highs come.”
With McConnell-Serio resting most of her starters in the final quarter, Pitt cruised to a 94-48 victory. The Panthers will next host Cornell at the Pete at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 26.