Pitt unlucky against Irish, 87-53


Forward Yacine Diop (12) scored 10 points during Pitt’s 87-53 loss to Syracuse Thursday night. (Photo by Sarah Cutshall | Staff Photographer)

By Adin Link | Staff Writer

The Pitt women’s basketball team continued its recent streak of blowout losses Thursday night as the Panthers fell to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 87-53.

The Panthers (9-12 overall, 1-7 ACC) came into the game after two losses of more than 15 points against Syracuse and No. 4 Louisville. The No. 5 Fighting Irish (19-2 overall, 7-1 ACC) took advantage of a lackluster Pitt team to earn their second straight win of more than 40 points.

“Well, when you watch Notre Dame, and you look at how talented they are at every position, it’s pick your poison. We knew going in that we were undersized and matching up with them,” Pitt head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio said. “So we went to zone [defense] and Jessica Shepard just picked us apart.”

The start of the game was a back-and-forth affair with a 7-7 tie game going into the first media timeout. But the Panthers started to lose ground quick as the Fighting Irish went on a blazing 13-2 run that ran the score up to 20-11 by the end of the first quarter.

The Panthers were exposed on the boards in the first quarter, getting outrebounded 13-7. The Fighting Irish were able to gather their first quarter lead in large part due to junior forward Shepard, who scored 13 points for the Irish.

Pitt redshirt junior forward Yacine Diop kicked off the second quarter with a three-point play that cut the Irish lead to six. The Irish were unfazed, however, going on a 14-2 run after Diop’s score, forcing McConnell-Serio to call a timeout.

It was more of the same for Notre Dame coming out of the timeout as they cruised to a 44-21 halftime lead. The Panthers were plagued by sloppy offensive play as they committed 14 turnovers in the first half.

Along with issues holding onto the basketball, scoring was at a premium for Pitt as it shot only 31 percent from the field in the first half, having no player score more than five points. Shepard closed out the half with a very strong performance for the Irish, scoring 19 points and grabbing five rebounds.
The Fighting Irish came out of halftime and opened the third quarter with their first three-point field goal of the contest. After Irish junior guard Marina Mabrey sunk the triple, the Panthers answered immediately as junior forward Kauai Bradley hit a 3-pointer of her own making the score 47-24.

The Irish and Panthers continued to trade blows as the third quarter concluded with the Irish holding a commanding 67-36 lead. The Panthers found some life from behind the arc in the third, hitting three 3-pointers after previously only making two for the game.

Notre Dame’s Marina Mabrey opened the final quarter by sinking two quick 3-point field goals, extending the Irish lead to 73-36. The fourth quarter didn’t see any semblance of a Panther comeback attempt with the Irish continuing to outscore and outrebound the Panthers.

The Panthers had one bright spot in the fourth quarter with first-year guard Pika Rodriguez hitting three triples, giving her nine points on the night.

“If I feel like my shot is going in and I feel comfortable shooting it, I’ll keep shooting it because I know my team needs me to,” Rodriguez said.

The Panthers suffered from turnovers, poor 3-point shooting and a lack of inside presence. Pitt committed 19 turnovers and could only muster a 23 percent 3-point percentage, while the Irish outrebounded the Panthers 51-28.