Orange overwhelm Pitt women’s basketball, 90-63


Thomas Yang | Assistant Visual Editor

Junior Jasmine Whitney (3) during Pitt’s loss to Syracuse on Feb. 19, 2018.

By Dominic Campbell, Staff Writer

The Pitt women’s basketball team entered Thursday night hoping for an upset to even the two-game series against No. 18 Syracuse, but the Panthers left after being blown out 90-63 at the Carrier Dome.

The loss keeps the Panthers (10-18 overall, 1-13 ACC) at the bottom of the ACC while helping the Orange (20-6 overall, 9-4 ACC) rise to a top-four spot in the conference. That makes two straight losses and 10 ACC road losses in a row for Pitt, with the team’s last road win coming against Clemson on Feb. 1, 2018.  

The first quarter saw Syracuse dominate right from tip-off and take a 23-6 lead. The Panthers had a tough time both scoring and defending, leading to a 16-2 run by Syracuse to end the quarter.

First-year guards Kadiatou Sissoko and Emily Engstler led Syracuse during the run, with Sissoko hitting a 3-pointer and making a layup while Engstler also made a 3-pointer and a free throw. Junior guard Tiana Mangakahia also converted from deep and both redshirt senior forward Miranda Drummond and redshirt first-year forward Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi made layups to cap the Orange run.

Pitt shot poorly in the first frame, going 3-15 from the field and 0-5 from 3-point range. The Orange also out-rebounded the Panthers 15-8, and had 15 points off the bench compared to zero for the Panthers.

Syracuse continued its dominance into the second quarter, scoring the first eight points. Redshirt freshman forward Marie-Paule Fopposi drained a jumper, redshirt sophomore guard Kiara Lewis converted an and-one opportunity and Drummond made a 3-pointer.

Pitt responded with a 12-3 run of its own to cut the lead down to 16. Senior forward Danielle Garven’s layup at the 8:18 mark was Pitt’s first field goal since 4:09 remained in the first quarter. Garven also made two jumpers and junior guard Jasmine Whitney contributed with two 3-pointers.

The Orange regained control and ended the second quarter on a 17-8 run. Engstler continued to be an influential presence off the bench, scoring nine points in the quarter to lead the team at the half with 13. Mangakahia scored four points on a foul shot and a 3-pointer and had nine assists by halftime, and Lewis and sophomore center Amaya Finklea-Guity made layups to give Syracuse a 51-26 lead at the end of the first half.

Garven made another layup and Whitney made a jumper and two free throws, as both led Pitt with 12 points each, totalling 24 of Pitt’s 26 first-half points. Senior forward Kauai Bradley was the only other Panther with points.

Both teams shot better in the second quarter, with the Panthers making eight of 15 shots from the field and two of six from 3-point land, while the Orange were 11-22 from the field and 4-10 from 3-point range. The Orange stuck to their strengths, out-rebounding Pitt 14-6.

Despite trailing by 25 points, Pitt outscored Syracuse in the third quarter by a margin of 25-20. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Panthers still faced an insurmountable 71-51 deficit.  

Garven made two jumpers and two free throws for six points and Whitney made a jumper and two free throws for four points. The Panthers finally finally got some other players in the mix as senior Cassidy Walsh, first-year Ismini Prapa and sophomore Kyla Nelson hit 3-pointers and both first-year guard Jahsyni Knight and sophomore forward Jaala Henry scored two points to get on the scoring sheet.

The Orange got contributions from eight players, with Lewis and sophomore Digna Strautmane leading the team with four points. A 3-pointer from Mangakahia gave her a double-double and Engstler made a layup to get her up to 15 points.

Pitt shot well again in the third quarter, going 7-13 from the field and 3-5 on 3-point attempts. The Panthers were also a perfect 8-8 from the foul line while the Orange were 5-8, but outrebounded Pitt 11-5.

The fourth quarter saw the Panthers regress back to their first-quarter performance. They shot poorly and let the lead expand before the final whistle ended the blowout.

The Orange shot 6-12 from the field and 2-6 from 3-point range, while the Panthers were 5-18 from the field and 1-8 from long range. Djaldi-Tabdi led the Orange in the quarter with six points on four foul shots and a layup, and Engstler scored a layup to secure a career-high 17 points.

Garven and Nelson both scored five points for the Pitt in the quarter. Garven finished as the Panthers’ leading scorer, with 23 points, for the fifth consecutive game.  

The Panthers will look to end their losing streak next Thursday in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, against a fellow ACC basement dweller — the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.