The McNeese State Cowgirls gave the Pitt women’s basketball team a stiff test Tuesday night, but the Panthers’ frontcourt duo of Brenna Wise and Brandi Harvey-Carr proved too much for the Cowgirls to handle.
Wise, a sophomore forward, followed up her 18-point, 10-rebound effort in Pitt’s 71-46 win vs. UTEP Monday night with a season-high 25 points in a 71-65 win over McNeese State (5-6) Tuesday. Harvey-Carr — a 6-foot-4 center who set a career high with 18 points on Monday — scored 18 again Tuesday to help the Panthers (9-3) secure their first two road wins of the season.
Pitt will leave the Patrick Harrington Tournament unscathed after picking up wins on back-to-back nights in Niceville, Florida.
Wise made her presence felt early by converting a pair of layups on the first two Panthers possessions — only a sign of things to come. She followed with a jumper the next time down the court, and Pitt sophomore forward Kauai Bradley added another to make it 8-0. Harvey-Carr then put in a layup to cap a 10-0 run to start the game.
After going almost three minutes without a point, McNeese State got on the board on a layup by forward Frederica Haywood.
The Cowgirls started finding success on offense, but couldn’t contain Wise on the other end. The Panthers’ versatile 6-foot forward added another layup after a steal by Bradley, then knocked down a 3-pointer to push Pitt’s lead back to 10 with 4:23 left in the first quarter.
Wise finished the opening quarter with 11 points as the Panthers jumped out to a 21-13 lead, but this one was far from over.
McNeese State carried over a 6-0 run into the second quarter, cutting it to a five-point game at 21-16. Harvey-Carr then took over inside, scoring Pitt’s first eight points of the quarter on a layup, jumper and four free throws. But she was the only source of offense for the Panthers in the quarter, as the Cowgirls battled back to make it 31-28 at the half.
Junior point guard Aysia Bugg opened the scoring in the second half with a quick layup, then a pair of free throws and a layup from Wise gave Pitt a 37-31 lead. Wise then buried a three to make it 40-33 midway through the third quarter, but McNeese State continued to chip away.
Sophomore guard Dede Sheppard made three straight layups for the Cowgirls to make it a two-point game, then senior guard Amber Donnes then hit a 3-pointer to make it 45-44. Sophomore guard Cassidy Walsh answered with a 3-pointer for the Panthers — part of her season-high 10 points off the bench — to give Pitt a 49-46 advantage entering the final quarter.
McNeese State cut it to two with just under nine minutes to play, but couldn’t quite pull even.
Wise made a layup to stretch the Panthers’ lead to four, then Bugg hit a pair of free throws and Walsh hit another three to make it a seven-point game. Another jumper from Wise made it 60-51 Pitt, but the Cowgirls kept fighting back.
McNeese State cut the gap to four with 24 seconds left, then first-year guard Mady Brasseaux pulled down an offensive rebound and had a chance to cut it to two. But Brasseaux missed her putback attempt, and Bradley secured the defensive rebound for the Panthers before draining two clutch free throws to seal Pitt’s 71-65 victory.
The Panthers will have eight days off before returning home for their final non-conference game against the cross-town rival Duquesne Dukes at 2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 29.