Duke defeats Pitt women’s basketball, 74-55

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Duke defeats Pitt women’s basketball, 74-55

Sophomore center Cara Judkins (11) attempts a layup during Pitt’s Jan. 31 loss against Virginia Tech. Yesterday’s loss against Duke marked Pitt’s ninth straight loss this season.

Sophomore center Cara Judkins (11) attempts a layup during Pitt’s Jan. 31 loss against Virginia Tech. Yesterday’s loss against Duke marked Pitt’s ninth straight loss this season.

Bader Abdulmajeed | Staff Photographer

Sophomore center Cara Judkins (11) attempts a layup during Pitt’s Jan. 31 loss against Virginia Tech. Yesterday’s loss against Duke marked Pitt’s ninth straight loss this season.

Bader Abdulmajeed | Staff Photographer

Bader Abdulmajeed | Staff Photographer

Sophomore center Cara Judkins (11) attempts a layup during Pitt’s Jan. 31 loss against Virginia Tech. Yesterday’s loss against Duke marked Pitt’s ninth straight loss this season.

By Dominic Campbell, Staff Writer

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It was another tough outing for the Pitt women’s basketball team Sunday, with the Panthers heading to Duke in search of their first ACC victory. Instead, the Blue Devils dealt Pitt its ninth loss in as many games, 74-55.

That brings the Panthers’ ACC losing streak to an unsightly 16 games dating back to last season, with their last conference victory — 58-42 over Clemson on Feb. 1 — happening more than a year ago. The loss also keeps Pitt winless against Duke in the all-time series, which now sits at 10-0 in favor of the Blue Devils.

The Panthers turned in a surprisingly effective first quarter, actually finishing with a 19-17 lead over Duke. It was a back-and-forth period, with nine lead changes and five ties as neither team was able to mount any major runs.

For the Panthers, senior guard Cassidy Walsh had a big first quarter, shooting 3-5 from a 3-point range and leading the time with 9 points. Sophomores Jaala Henry, Kyla Nelson and Cara Judkins, as well as senior forward Danielle Garven and junior guard Jasmine Whitney, each scored 2 points for Pitt. The team as a whole shot 7-16, or 43.8 percent in the quarter.

The Blue Devils’ post players scored a big portion of their points, with first-year forward Onome Akinbode-James and sophomore center Jade Williams scoring 6 and 3 points, respectively. The duo also helped Duke secure a 13-7 rebounding advantage in the quarter, as each pulled down three boards.

Duke took control of the second quarter and built a 9-point lead, 41-32, over Pitt going into halftime. Redshirt junior guard Haley Gorecki, who shot 0-4 in the first quarter, was dominant in this frame, scoring 11 points on 4-7 shooting, including two 3-pointers, and a made free throw. First-year guard Miela Goodchild was also deadly from 3-point range, making three of her four attempts for a 9-point quarter. As a team, Duke shot 9-14 in the quarter, including an impressive 5-9 at the 3-point line.

Pitt couldn’t keep up with Duke’s efficient offense, shooting only 6-15 from the field and 1-5 from 3-point range. Garven led the team with 4 points on a jumper and a fast-break layup and Walsh netted another 3-pointer to chip in. While things weren’t working offensively, the Panthers did create six steals on defense, with senior center Kalista Walters and Walsh leading the team with two steals each in the quarter.

The third quarter saw both teams struggling mightily from the field, with the Blue Devils having a slight points advantage, 11-10. Pitt actually shot better than Duke in the quarter, going 4-15, or 26.7 percent, from the field, while Duke went an abysmal 3-17, or 17.6 percent.

The Panthers started the third quarter on a 8-2 run to cut the lead to three with 5:58 left. Walsh and Nelson hit 3-pointers and Judkins made a mid-range jumper, and Gorecki countered back with a layup to keep Duke ahead.

But Duke responded with a 9-2 run to close out the quarter with a 52-42 lead. Junior forward Leaonna Odom started off the run converting an and-one opportunity, Gorecki made both foul shots, Goodchild made another 3-pointer and Williams made a free throw. Whitney ended the quarter for Pitt with a layup to stop the run.

The Blue Devils played much better in the fourth quarter, shooting 8-14 from the field and 4-5 from the foul line. Pitt, on the other hand, struggled, shooting 5-20 from the field and 1-9 from 3-point range.

Williams led in the quarter with 6 points as she dominated down low against the Panthers. Odom was right behind her with 5, making a jumper in the paint and converting a 3-point play. Goodchild made another 3-pointer for an outstanding 7-9 from outside the arc and also making her the leading scorer with 20 points for the game.

Whitney was one of the only players to contribute for a struggling Pitt team in the fourth quarter,  scoring 5 points off of two jumpers and a free throw. Judkins made a basket and a free throw for three points, Garven made a jumper and Walsh hit another 3-pointer to give her a career-high six 3’s in the game.

The Panthers will look once more for that elusive ACC win when they travel to Georgia Tech to take on the Yellow Jackets Thursday night at 7 p.m.

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