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Weekend sports: Panthers flip out, fall short

Weekend sports: Panthers flip out, fall short


Pitt gymnastics’ best performance emerged on the floor during its 194.850-194.125 loss to Oregon State Saturday night. (Photo by Thomas Yang | Visual Editor)



David Leftwich
| Senior Staff Writer

January 16, 2018

While most of Oakland hunkered down because of the winter weather, three teams were in action on campus over the weekend. The track and field squad traveled to an equally snowy State College.

The women’s basketball team earned its first ACC win, and the track and field team secured 22 top-five finishes. Still, the gymnastics team narrowly lost its first competition of the year, while the men’s basketball team lost its fifth straight game in a blowout.

Track and Field

Continuing to move through their indoor season, the Panthers had a strong showing on Saturday at the Nittany Lion Challenge.

Highlighting the Panthers’ team performance, senior Andin Fosam won in the women’s weight throw and sophomore Jabari Michael-Khensu won the 300m sprint at the Horace Ashenfelter III Indoor Track.

While this was the first meet for the Panthers in more than three weeks, the team performed well.

On the women’s side, 13 individuals finished in the top five, including the 4×800 and 4×400 relay teams that finished second and fourth, respectively.

Other than the win for Michael-Khensu, there were six Panthers who finished in the top five in individual events on the men’s side — all of them underclassmen. Rounding out the men’s side, the 4×400 relay team finished in fourth.

“Overall, I thought we were pretty competitive coming off of a three-week holiday break,” head coach Alonzo Webb said in a press conference after the meet. “What I was looking for most were competitive efforts from everyone, and I think we achieved that.”

Working their way to the NCAA indoor track championships in March, the Panther track and field team will travel to Youngstown, Ohio for the YSU College Invitational Friday to continue their indoor season.

Gymnastics

Despite posting their program-best score in a season-opener, the Panther gymnastics team fell less than a point short of victory against Oregon State.

Holding a slight lead through the first two events of the meet, the Panthers (0-1 overall) coughed up their edge in the last two events to spoil a great team performance and suffer a 194.850-194.125 loss to Oregon State (1-0 overall) at the Fitzgerald Field House.

First year Haley Brechwald led the way for the Panthers in vault — the first event of the night — winning the event and posting a score of 9.825. After the first rotation, the Panthers held a 48.725-48.700 lead.

Holding onto their slight lead, each of the five Panthers scored a 9.650 or above on bars to move the score to 97.350-97.225 in favor of the Panthers.

The Beavers took control of the match in the third rotation on Beam.

Senior Dani Dessaints won the event with a score of 9.850, and sophomore Sabrina Gill finished in second overall with a score of 9.800 to lead the Beavers.

The best Panther performance came from sophomore Deven Herbine, with a score of 9.750 — the Panthers couldn’t keep up. The Beavers captured a 146.175-145.175 lead through three events with only the floor portion remaining.

In their best team performance of any section, the Panthers racked up a score of 48.950 on floor — an average of 9.79 per person. Still, the Beavers kept pace.

Despite winning the floor event 48.950-48.675, the Panthers didn’t gain enough ground to earn a match win. The Panthers ended up losing the match 194.850-194.125.

The team should have confidence moving forward after breaking the program record for points in a meet. As an added bonus, Brechwald looks to be an immediate contributor, tying for the all-around title in her first-ever meet.

The gymnastics team will be back in action next Saturday at the Fitzgerald Field House as they take on New Hampshire.

Men’s Basketball

The Panthers didn’t just lose their fifth straight game on Saturday against Georgia Tech — they suffered their fifth straight double-digit defeat.

Georgia Tech (10-7 overall, 3-1 ACC) handily defeated the Panthers (8-10 overall, 0-5) 69-54 at the Petersen Events Center to keep Pitt winless in the ACC on the season.

Shooting an efficient 55.2 percent in the first half as a team, redshirt junior Abdoulaye Gueye, sophomore Josh Okogie, and first year Jose Alvarado each put up 10 points to lead the Yellow Jacket attack.

First year Shamiel Stevenson and junior Jared Wilson-Frame each had nine points in the first half, but the team only combined to shoot 42.9 percent as the Panthers found themselves behind 40-29 at the end of the half.

Tightening their defensive pressure, the Panthers held the Yellow Jackets to

38.5 percent shooting and 29 points in the second half. Yet Pitt couldn’t get anything going on the offensive side of the ball.

The team only put up 25 points on 38.1 percent shooting in the second half as the team fell 69-54.

Remaining winless in the ACC, the Panthers look to bounce back against rival Syracuse on Tuesday at Syracuse in a 9 p.m. matchup.

Read the full recap here.

Women’s Basketball

Earning its first ACC win of the season, the women’s basketball team held on to win 68-62 on Sunday at the Petersen Events Center.

Despite holding a double-digit lead throughout the majority of the game, the Panthers (9-9 overall, 1-4 ACC) barely held on after a fourth quarter rally by the Yellow Jackets (12-7 overall, 1-5 ACC).

Sophomore Alayna Gribble and redshirt junior Yacine Diop provided the offensive firepower for the Panthers.

Combining for 23 points in the first half, they carried the offensive load as the team secured a 34-24 lead.

Extending their lead even further in the second half, the Panthers took a decisive 51-34 lead through three quarters.

Gribble continued to provide an offensive spark, scoring 10 points in the quarter to lead the Panthers.

Georgia Tech came storming back in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Panthers 28-17 in the frame. But it wasn’t enough. Pitt held on to win 68-62.

Even though the Yellow Jackets outscored the Panthers 32-14 in the paint, Pitt made 10 threes as compared to two for Georgia Tech. Gribble herself made seven threes in her 29-point performance, the second-highest number of threes in one game in program history.

Looking to gain momentum after their first ACC win, the Panthers will face Louisville Thursday in a 7 p.m. game at the Petersen Events Center.

Read the full recap here.

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