The Pitt women’s basketball team rode a two-game winning streak into Raleigh, North Carolina, but that momentum came to end Thursday night against the No. 18 North Carolina State Wolfpack.
NC State (16-5 overall, 6-2 ACC) used its stingy defense to contain the Panthers’ outside threats in a 55-42 win. After Pitt (12-8 overall, 3-4 ACC) nailed four consecutive 3-pointers to spark its comeback win over Virginia on Sunday, the team combined to make only two shots from beyond the arc in Thursday’s loss.
All four of Pitt’s losses in conference play have come against teams ranked inside the Associated Press poll’s top 20. The Panthers will have another top-ten matchup awaiting them on Sunday in the Louisville Cardinals.
The Panthers came into Thursday’s game after back-to-back wins in the ACC, but their hot shooting abandoned them early on. Meanwhile, seniors Jennifer Mathurin and Ashley Williams made a pair of 3-pointers as the Wolfpack jumped out to an early 6-0 lead.
Graduate transfer forward Destinie Gibbs — making her ninth start of the year in place of junior point guard Aysia Bugg — gave Pitt its first basket with a jumper nearly three minutes into the game. Bugg, who suffered a concussion in practice last week, played 13 minutes off the bench and added two points for the Panthers in the game.
A pair of layups by first-year point guard Jasmine Whitney and sophomore forward Brenna Wise brought Pitt within one, but NC State put together a 12-2 run to close the quarter with a 19-9 lead.
The Panthers stormed right back, scoring the first eight points of the second quarter to cut the deficit to two midway through the quarter. After going almost eight minutes of game time without a point, redshirt senior guard Dominique Wilson drained a three to give the Wolfpack their first points of the quarter.
Mathurin followed Wilson with her own 3-pointer on NC State’s next possession, and the Wolfpack took a 28-21 lead into the break. Wilson and Mathurin led NC State at the half with nine and eight points, respectively, while Whitney had a team-high six points for Pitt in the opening 20 minutes.
The Wolfpack started the second half by stretching their lead to double digits, then the teams spent the next few minutes exchanging trips to the free throw line. Layups by Bugg and sophomore forward Kalista Walters trimmed the Panthers’ deficit to nine midway through the third quarter, but Williams responded with a three to make it 39-27.
Two free throws from Wise and a triple from Pitt sophomore forward Kauai Bradley cut it to 39-32 late in the quarter, but Mathurin added another three to make it a 10-point game heading into the fourth.
Another three from Bradley cut the gap to seven early in the final quarter, but that was the closest the Panthers would come as NC State pulled away late with an 11-1 run. Pitt trailed by 17 with 4:35 left and had to settle for a 55-42 defeat after hanging tough for most of the game.
The Panthers will return home to the Petersen Events Center for another daunting game against the No. 9 Louisville Cardinals at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27. The Cardinals held off an admirable effort from Pitt to pull out a 73-52 win in their first matchup Jan. 8.