Rough shooting dooms Pitt in loss to Notre Dame, 60-52

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Carolyn Pallof | Staff Photographer

Amber Brown (5) led Pitt with 11 rebounds while contributing 12 points in a 60-52 loss to Notre Dame.

By Dominic Campbell, Senior Staff Writer

With a second close battle to start its ACC schedule, the Pitt women’s basketball team again fell by eight points, this time to rival Notre Dame, 60-52, at the Petersen Events Center Thursday night.

The game featured poor shooting from both teams, as the Panthers (3-10 overall, 0-2 ACC)  shot 25.4 percent from the field while the Fighting Irish (6-8 overall, 1-1 ACC) didn’t fare much better, shooting 33.3 percent.

The first quarter was both sloppy and defensively brilliant from the Panthers, as they were tied with Notre Dame at eight in the end. Pitt turned the ball over nine times but managed to force six turnovers on five steals, three from redshirt senior Aysia Bugg. The Panthers shot 3-11 from the floor, but held Notre Dame to 4-18 shooting as well.

Junior guard Gabbie Green hit two 3-pointers for six of the eight points in the first quarter, with first-year guard Dayshanette Harris providing a layup. Notre Dame junior center Mikayla Vaughn scored six points, making three of her four shots of the quarter, while her teammates combined to go 1-14 to keep it a low-scoring game.

The second quarter was more of the same from both teams as they continued to turn the ball over and struggle shooting. The Panthers shot 4-12 from the floor and turned the ball over eight times while the Fighting Irish shot 8-23 and turned it over four times. 

Notre Dame took the lead 30-22 going into halftime thanks to a 6-0 run at the end of the second quarter that was capped by a putback from first-year guard Anaya Peoples as the buzzer sounded.

The big part missing from the first half was Bugg, who scored zero points on 0-5 shooting while also committing three turnovers in the second quarter.

Notre Dame scored seven quick points out of the halftime break, forcing Pitt head coach Lance White to call a timeout. The Fighting Irish eventually took their largest lead of the game, 41-24, after two layups from first-year forward Sam Brunelle with 6:54 remaining in the third quarter.

The Panthers responded, going on an 8-0 run over the next four minutes to cut the lead to single digits, thanks to Harris and first-year forward Rita Igbokwe making jumpers, a 3-pointer from Green and a free throw from first-year guard Amber Brown.

The Panthers managed to control the damage and entered the fourth quarter trailing by 10, 46-36. The biggest difference was a decrease in turnovers turnovers, as they only committed two in the quarter.

The fourth quarter saw Pitt continue to claw its way back into the game, drawing within three points with 5:56 and at 2:33 remaining. An increased effort on the boards kept the Panthers competitive, often turning offensive rebounds into second-chance points. 

“It has always been our game plan to beat on the boards,” Brown said. “That’s always a key to win the game. That’s what we came in to start the game with, but it’s actually executing and focusing in on like ‘I gotta get on the glass, I gotta get a rebound’ to help my team win.”

Still, the Panthers struggled mightily to make buckets. They shot 3-21 in the final quarter and went six minutes without making a field goal, failing to take advantage of the Fighting Irish shooting 5-14 from the field and 4-8 from the free throw line. 

The biggest disappointments were Bugg, who despite two made free throws, shot 0-5 in the quarter and 0-3 from the 3-point line, along with Harris, who only made one of her six shots and scored three points. Pitt’s 10-14 shooting from the foul line in the fourth kept it in the game, but Notre Dame pulled away for the victory, ending its four-game losing streak.

Despite the loss, the Panthers played much better against the Fighting Irish this year in comparison to their 100-44 blowout loss last season in head coach Lance White’s first ACC game at Pitt. White noted that this team has progressed since then.

“These guys are growing everyday and I think their team’s continuing to grow, but again I think we’re similar in a lot of ways and I thought it was a battle back and forth for much of the game,” White said.

Pitt will look to get its first ACC win at home against fellow 0-2 foe Boston College this Sunday at 2 p.m.

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