Pitt women’s basketball conquers Cornell, 56-44

Junior point guard Aysia Bugg led the Panthers with 15 points in a 56-44 win over Cornell. Jeff Ahearn | Assistant Visual Editor

The Pitt women’s basketball team is off to a 6-0 start for the fourth time in school history after another double-digit win on Saturday.

Playing with an eight-woman rotation due to a rash of injuries, the Panthers (6-0) managed to defeat the Cornell Big Red (4-2) at the Petersen Events Center Saturday night, 56-44. Junior point guard Aysia Bugg followed up her 17-point performance against Slippery Rock on Wednesday with a team-high 15 points in the win over Cornell.

Pitt head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio was slightly disappointed with her team’s effort despite the positive outcome.

“I thought we came out a little flat,” McConnell-Serio said. “I don’t know if that had anything to do with Thanksgiving off, or if we don’t have enough players to even go live. It got out of sync in our preparation against Cornell.”

The Panthers used the same formula that led to success in their first five games of the season — solid contributions from all five starters along suffocating defense.

Pitt held the Big Red to just 34.7 percent shooting, the fifth straight opponent to shoot below 35 percent against the Panthers. Meanwhile, 6-foot-4 center Brandi-Harvey Carr pitched in 12 points and seven rebounds, while sophomore forward Kauai Bradley added nine points, six assists and five boards.

The game started out close, with Pitt leading 12-11 after one. But then the Panthers broke things open with a 20-7 second quarter to take a 14-point lead into the break.

Cornell attempted to cut into the deficit in the third quarter, trimming Pitt’s lead to single digits at 42-33 with two minutes left in the quarter. A fastbreak layup by sophomore forward Kalista Walters pushed the Panthers’ advantage back to 11, then Bugg beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it 49-35 after three.

“I didn’t think I even had enough time to get it off, so I rushed it,” Bugg said about the catch-and-shoot 3-pointer with one second on the clock. “But, thankful, it went in.”

Pitt pushed its lead to 16 early in the fourth quarter, and both teams struggled to make shots in the middle part of the quarter. The Big Red slowly fought back into the game, cutting the Panthers’ lead to 10 with 3:23 left in the game. But that was as close as they would come in this one as Pitt held on for the 56-44 win.

The Panthers will next host the Purdue Boilermakers at the Pete as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 30.

“[Purdue] will be our biggest challenge,” McConnell-Serio said. “There is a lot of excitement in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Hopefully we are ready and confident when we come out to play on Wednesday night.”

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