Women’s basketball beats Gannon 68-46 in exhibition opener


Thomas Yang | Assistant Visual Editor

Junior guard Jasmine Whitney (3) contributed 13 points to Pitt’s 68-46 victory over Gannon.

By Dominic Campbell, Staff Writer

Unlike last season, when the Panthers lost 73-68 to IUP, the Pitt women’s basketball team defeated its Division II opponent Gannon, 68-46 in a season-opening exhibition game at the Petersen Events Center Tuesday.

While it doesn’t count toward the team’s official record, this marked the Panthers’ first competition under new head coach Lance White, who spent his last 15 years at Florida State as an assistant coach and associate head coach. After the win, White was happy that his team showed improvement.

“You know, obviously exhibition games are a chance to turn on the lights and get a chance, the first time to be out on the court,” White said. “I thought early our team was a little scattered and a little nervous and I thought once we kinda got through that emotional part of it, I thought they played much better, much harder and we were what I call ‘stuck in mud’ a little bit early. But then I really was proud of the way they played.”

Both teams kept it close in the first quarter as the game went back and forth. After sophomore guard Aiora Rivas hit a 3-pointer to start the game for the Golden Knights, the Panthers went on a 7-0 run to take the lead early.

The leader of this run was redshirt senior guard Aysia Bugg, who hit a 3-pointer and made a layup in her first game back after missing all of last season due to a medical redshirt. She finished the quarter with seven points and was happy to be back on the court doing what she does best.

“It felt great!” Bugg said. “I mean of course it’s, you know, shaking off some of the dust, but every game is getting back to the feeling I used to have. So getting more comfortable, game by game, is the goal.”

Junior guard Jasmine Whitney did her part by scoring six points in the quarter, and senior guard Cassidy Walsh, along with senior center Kalista Walters, led the early production with two assists each.

Despite shooting well in the quarter at 52.9 percent, the Panthers had trouble stopping the hot shooting by the Golden Knights.

As a team, Gannon shot 7-9 from the field and shot an impressive 5-6 from 3-point range. The star for Golden Knights was first-year guard/forward Tori Obenrader, who made all four 3-pointers she shot, giving her 12 points in the quarter.

The Panthers kept the game close by causing turnovers, as they made Gannon turn it over nine times in the quarter, turning into 14 easy points. Turnovers would continue to be a issue for the Golden Knights all game. Still, they led 23-22 over the Panthers at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter saw the Panthers come out with a vengeance, going on a 10-4 run by the second media timeout to lead 32-27. Instrumental in that run was senior forward Danielle Garven, who scored two layups and a mid-range jumper to score six points in a minute and take the lead.

The Panthers survived by creating more turnovers, with seven in this quarter, but were less effective getting points off them with only six. They also won the rebound battle, 16-13, and out-tallied Gannon 7-3 on offensive rebounds. Garven, Whitney and sophomore center Jaala Henry were tied for the most with three rebounds each in the quarter. By the end of the half, Pitt was back in control of the game, leading 39-31.

Scoring slowed down mightily in the third quarter as both teams shot poorly overall. The Golden Knights shot 3-10, including 0-5 from 3-point range, while the Panthers shot 4-13, 30.8 percent and 0-2 from deep.

Whitney lead Pitt in the quarter with four points off a fast-break layup and a mid-range jumper, while Garven also had three to bring her total up to 16 for the game. Garven, who finished with 20 points in the game, was impressed by her performance and says that she is feeling much better playing this year than last.

“I would just say the confidence my coach and my teammates have in me is a lot, how do I say this, is a lot greater than it was last year,” Garven said. “And so they’re always like ‘Miss one shot, like you got the next one, you got the next one.’ They’re always on me about keeping my energy up as well.”

Gannon easily won the rebounding battle in the third quarter, 13-6, and while they turned the ball over more than Pitt, 8-5, they capitalized by earning more points off the turnovers than the Panthers, 6-4. Obenrader led the team with six rebounds in the quarter and junior guard Haley Tewes had three.

The Golden Knights managed to outduel the Panthers in a very low-scoring quarter, 11-9, bringing the score to 48-42 Pitt — still presenting Gannon with an upset opportunity.

While they brought the game back within six, Gannon finally got exposed in the fourth quarter.

The Panthers were able to pull away from the Golden Knights in the fourth quarter. They started off on a decisive 11-1 run, thanks to a layup and two foul shots from Garven, and a layup and a jumper by Bugg, who got her first points since the first quarter. Only a 3-pointer by Obenrader stopped the run, which gave her 18 points for the game.

Right after her 3-pointer, the Panthers went on a 9-0 run to end the game with a 68-46 victory, outscoring the Golden Knights 20-4 in the fourth.

Gannon couldn’t keep up with Pitt due to their poor shooting. The great 3-point shooting in the first quarter was bookended by a horrendous last quarter, in which they shot 1-8 from three and 1-10 from the field overall.

It also didn’t help that they turned the ball over seven times, leading to eight points off those turnovers for the Panthers. As a team, the Golden Knights turned it over 31 times, compared to only 15 for Pitt.

Garven was the Panthers’ MVP for the game, leading the team in points with 20 and rebounds with nine.

Pitt will begin its regular season next Wednesday, Nov. 7, at the Petersen Events Center against the University of Central Florida. Wednesday is the annual school day game, meaning that grade-school students from across the region will be in attendance. Tipoff for the game is at 11 a.m.