Pitt drops eighth straight at Virginia Tech, 68-56

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Kaycee Orwig | Senior Staff Photographer

First-year guard Dayshanette Harris moves past a Miami defender.

By Dominic Campbell, Senior Staff Writer

Pitt women’s basketball continued its grueling ACC schedule — and losing streak — Thursday night at Virginia Tech, falling to the Hokies 68-56.

That’s now eight consecutive overall and four consecutive ACC losses for the Panthers (3-12 overall, 0-4 ACC), who can’t seem to steal a win. Thursday night’s loss to the Hokies (12-3 overall, 2-2 ACC) marked the largest margin of defeat among Pitt’s ACC games, as the previous three games were within 10 points.

Virginia Tech came right out leading 8-2 at the first media timeout, with graduate guard Taja Cole scoring five points to lead her team.

Despite falling short initially, the Panthers made a small comeback, getting the lead down to three at 13-10 with two minutes remaining in the first quarter. First-year guard Amber Brown scored six points and fellow first-year guard Dayshanette Harris converted an and-one layup.

The Hokies took back the game with a 9-2 run to end the first quarter up 22-12, with Cole scoring a jumper and a layup for nine points in the first quarter. 

The Panthers implemented a press midway through the first quarter, though it didn’t create that many turnovers, with Cole coughing up the ball just once. Pitt was lucky it didn’t get down by more points, as its poorly executed zone defense left the Hokies wide open to shoot on the perimeter. Virginia Tech shot just 3-11 on 3-point attempts.

The Hokies opened up an 18-point lead, 35-17, by the 3:56 mark of the second quarter. Junior guard Aisha Sheppard was instrumental in the run, making three 3-pointers, with one being a four-point play to give her 10 points in the quarter.

Toward the end of the first half, the Panthers changed up their defensive strategy, shifting from zone to man-to-man, which helped them go on an 8-3 run to cut the lead to 38-25 at the break.

Keeping their man-to-man defense, the Panthers started on a 7-0 run in the third quarter after a 3-pointer from junior guard Gabbie Green and layups from Brown and Harris to cut the deficit to six, forcing the Hokies to take a timeout with 7:30 remaining.

The rest of the period saw Virginia Tech outscore Pitt 15-13 to keep a lead, 53-45, going into the fourth quarter. After going scoreless in the second quarter, Cole got back in an offensive rhythm by scoring eight points, including a turn-around jumper at the buzzer.

The Panthers couldn’t gain any ground in the fourth, shooting 4-10 from the field and committing four turnovers.

Virginia Tech finally started to make its outside shots down the stretch, with two from Sheppard and one from sophomore guard Dara Mabrey. While Sheppard and Mabrey came into the game as two of the best 3-point shooters in the ACC, they both shot below their average, as Sheppard shot 5-15 and Mabrey shot an even poorer 2-11.

Cole was the star of the game for the Hokies, leading her team with 21 points on an impressive 9-12 shooting from the field. She also dished out six assists to keep her atop the ACC in assists per game. 

The struggling Panthers will get an extended break, continuing play next Thursday when they take on their first ranked team of the season in No. 9 NC State.

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