Second-half comeback fuels Panthers’ first win, 81-73, over CCSU

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Second-half comeback fuels Panthers’ first win, 81-73, over CCSU

Junior center Cara Judkins (11) made three of three field goals during Pitt’s 81-73 victory over Central Connecticut State on Monday.

Junior center Cara Judkins (11) made three of three field goals during Pitt’s 81-73 victory over Central Connecticut State on Monday.

Thomas Yang | Assistant Visual Editor

Junior center Cara Judkins (11) made three of three field goals during Pitt’s 81-73 victory over Central Connecticut State on Monday.

Thomas Yang | Assistant Visual Editor

Thomas Yang | Assistant Visual Editor

Junior center Cara Judkins (11) made three of three field goals during Pitt’s 81-73 victory over Central Connecticut State on Monday.

By Griffin Floyd, Staff Writer

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Overcoming a deficit that stood at 19 points early in the third quarter, the Pitt women’s basketball team picked up its first win of the season in dramatic fashion at the Petersen Events Center on Monday night, storming back in the second half to beat Central Connecticut State 81-73.

Redshirt senior guard Aysia Bugg led the way with a dominant performance, scoring 26 points while adding four assists and two steals in 36 minutes. Without Bugg’s takeover, the Panthers (1-1 overall) would’ve fallen in their home opener to a Blue Devils team that looked nearly impeccable in the first half.

CCSU won the jump ball and set the tone in the ensuing possession with a 3-pointer from junior Emma McCamus. Junior center Ashley Berube gave the Blue Devils a 7-6 lead on a jumper midway through the quarter — one they wouldn’t relinquish for more than half the game.

The Panthers struggled on both ends of the court in the first half. CCSU played aggressive defense, swarming the ball all the way up the court, eating up the shot clock and not letting Pitt set up offensively.

After the game, Pitt head coach Lance White attributed the Blue Devils’ defensive effort to the success of their offense.

“Anytime they made buckets they got into their press, that slowed us down and made us walk it up the floor,” he said.

The Blue Devils seemed like they could do no wrong offensively in the first 20 minutes. The Panthers often double-teamed Berube, who had 18 points on 8-10 shooting, allowing CCSU to kick it back beyond the arc, where they made 10 of 15 tries in the first half.

The red-hot start saw the Blue Devils leading 49-32 by the end of the second quarter. While White wouldn’t get into the specifics of his halftime speech, he did offer his train of thought.

“Whenever you’re dealing with a young basketball team, you’re trying to get them to grow up … that was the halftime talk. ‘Go get it,’” White said. “It was in a different type of tone.”

CCSU would stretch the lead to 19 on the first play of the second half, but from there on out it was all Panthers. A five-minute stretch with seven Blue Devil turnovers saw the Panthers close the lead to three as they went on a 19-5 run.

“We quit doubling the post, relied on that one-on-one so we could get out quicker and be quicker to the ball,” White said.

The adjustment worked for the Panthers, who scored 24 points off of 14 forced turnovers in the second half. Boxing out was an issue for both teams — Pitt and CCSU had 14 and 15 offensive rebounds, respectively.

Pitt tied the game and then took the lead on a pair of layups from first-year guard Amber Brown, which made the score 61-59 with eight minutes remaining. The Panthers wouldn’t trail again for the remainder of the game.

The 3-point shot, so successful for the Blue Devils in the first 35 minutes of the game, dried up for them when they needed it most, trailing by six with three minutes to go. One last CCSU bucket cut Pitt’s lead to 81-73 with four seconds remaining, and that score would hold for the final.

Brown finished as Pitt’s second-leading contributor with 13 points on an efficient 5-7 shooting, also adding a team-leading 10 rebounds.

The Panthers will continue their long home stand with a game against Georgetown this Saturday, with tip-off set for 2 p.m.

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