For the second game in a row, the Pitt women’s basketball team faced the unenviable task of trying to knock off a top-10 team on the road.
Against the No. 8 Louisville Cardinals on Sunday, the Panthers played a mostly competitive game that eventually turned into a 73-52 loss. Facing a tough opponent again — the ACC’s top-ranked team and resident powerhouse — Thursday night in South Bend, Indiana, Pitt never had a chance against the No. 6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Notre Dame (16-2 overall, 4-1 ACC) — the three-time defending ACC champion — quickly established its dominance against Pitt (10-7 overall, 1-3 ACC) while rolling to an 86-54 victory. The Irish never let up the attack or gave the Panthers a chance to mount a comeback like the one they almost pulled off against Louisville on Sunday.
Notre Dame’s ability to contain Pitt graduate transfer center Brandi Harvey-Carr was a huge factor in the outcome. Harvey-Carr entered the game after scoring in double figures in five of her last six games — including a career-high 25-point performance against the Cardinals.
But the Irish kept Harvey-Carr in check and never let her establish her presence inside. The 6-foot-4 center, who came in averaging 12.2 points and 5.6 rebounds, finished with eight points and three rebounds on just 3-of-10 shooting.
Harvey-Carr’s lackluster night allowed Notre Dame to dominate the boards, as the Irish outrebounded the Panthers 41-19 and tallied 15 second-chance points while Pitt finished with only two.
Meanwhile, sophomore forward Brenna Wise — the Panthers’ leading scorer at 13.4 points per game — got back on track with a team-high 17 points after scoring only four against Louisville.
True freshman Alayna Gribble also racked up 17 points for Pitt, doing most of her damage from beyond the arc. The first-year guard attempted 12 3-pointers, making five of them, while only taking one shot from inside the 3-point line.
Aside from the solid contributions from Wise and Gribble, the rest of the Panthers combined to score only 20 points while shooting 6-for-25 from the field.
Pitt took an early 5-4 lead after a pair of buckets from Wise and Harvey-Carr, but that was about as good as things would get for the Panthers. Notre Dame responded with a 9-0 run to take a 13-5 lead before a jumper from Wise made it a 13-7 Irish lead at the end of the first quarter.
Notre Dame stretched its lead to double digits early in the second quarter on back-to-back 3-pointers by guard Arike Ogunbowale. Forward Erin Boley then added a triple of her own to make it 24-9 Irish less than three minutes into the second quarter.
With the game already turning into a blowout, Pitt sophomore forward Kalista Walters made a pair of free throws and a jumper to make it 26-13. But Notre Dame answered with another 9-0 run, capped by another three from Ogunbowale, to make it 35-13 with 3:02 left in the first half.
The Panthers closed out the half on a 7-2 run, but they still trailed 37-20 at the break.
Ogunbowale started off the third quarter with her fourth 3-pointer of the game to give the Irish a 20-point lead, then nailed her fifth triple less than three minutes later to stretch the gap to 25. Boley and Notre Dame guard Jackie Young then followed with a pair of layups to give the Irish a 53-24 lead midway through the third quarter.
Gribble then started heating up and drained a pair of threes, but Pitt couldn’t get a stop on the other end. Entering the final quarter, the Panthers faced a virtually insurmountable 64-37 deficit.
Pitt started to find some rhythm on offense in the second half, scoring 17 points in both the third and fourth quarters. But Notre Dame’s offense was even better, putting up 27 in the third and 22 in the fourth to close out the 86-54 win.
The Panthers will return home to take on another formidable conference foe, the North Carolina Tar Heels, on Sunday, Jan. 15. Tipoff at the Petersen Events Center is at 2 p.m.