Injuries sink Pitt offense at Notre Dame

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Kaycee Orwig | Senior Staff Photographer

First-year guard Dayshanette Harris led the Panthers with seven points in the opening period before being elbowed in the face by Irish senior guard Kaitlin Cole midway through the second quarter.

By Dominic Campbell, Senior Staff Writer

Pitt women’s basketball entered Sunday’s game against rival Notre Dame hoping to get revenge for its close, early-January loss to the Irish. Despite a strong start, Pitt’s shooting struggles and a key injury handicapped the team on its way to another big defeat, 74-52 in South Bend, Indiana.

This marks the third loss in a row for the Panthers (4-19 overall, 1-11 ACC), with each coming by 20 points or more. It is also their 12th straight loss at the hands of the Fighting Irish (10-14 overall, 5-7 ACC). Finally, it is the second straight game in which redshirt senior guard Aysia Bugg has been out after the injury she sustained against Florida State on Feb. 1.

Both teams went on runs in the first quarter with the lead changing hands five times. Pitt jumped out to a 10-5 lead with 4:31 remaining. Notre Dame then went on a 9-0 run to lead 14-10 with 1:39 to go, and Pitt finished the quarter on a 7-0 run to lead 17-14. 

With Bugg sitting with an injury, Pitt was looking for someone to step up in her absence. First-year guard Dayshanette Harris did just that, leading the Panthers with seven points in the opening period.

But the Panthers were unable to find any rhythm offensively in the second quarter. They shot 3-17 from the field and went through a six-minute scoring drought. Harris shot a measly 1-7 from the floor after her hot start and mustered only five points.

Notre Dame was able to capitalize off of the poor shooting from Pitt, posting shooting marks of 4-7 from the 3-point range and 6-8 from the foul line. First-year forward Sam Brunelle, who had been in foul trouble in the first quarter, jumpstarted Notre Dame’s offense with two quick 3-pointers, while graduate guard Destinee Walker lead with eight points on two 3-pointers and two free throws.
The Fighting Irish outscored the Panthers 24-14 in the second quarter and went into halftime with a 38-31 lead.

The complexion of the game changed entirely when Harris was elbowed in the face by Irish senior guard Kaitlin Cole midway through the second quarter. Harris was able to play the remainder of the second quarter and even the first 1:30 of the third quarter, but after taking a successful charge, she sat out the rest of the game.

With Harris and Bugg out, the Panthers’ top two scorers weren’t available for most of the second half, and their offense missed their production dearly.

Pitt shot 10-39 from the field in the second half and made no 3-pointers, missing all 15 attempts. First-year guard Emy Hayford and junior guard Gabbie Green combined to shoot 0-12 from 3-point range. They also made no shots in the second half at all and combined for 0-16 from the field and zero points.

The only player that had a decent second half at all was first-year guard Amber Brown. After coming off of six straight halves of play where she didn’t make a field goal, Brown made seven of her eight shots from the field, scoring 15 points in the second half. The rest of the Panthers shot 3-31 from the field.

The Fighting Irish did better on offense than the Panthers, but only shot 14-33 from the field and 3-12 from 3-point range. Walker was a big part of their second-half scoring with 10 points and on a perfect 4-4 from the field.

Due to Brown’s play, Pitt kept it relatively close in the third quarter and entered the final frame down 10. But Brown’s four points in the fourth quarter were all that Pitt could counter with, allowing Notre Dame to break away for an easy win.

Sunday’s final quarter marks the fourth time that the Panthers scored four points or less in a quarter of ACC play this season — an all-too-familiar trend for the ACC’s statistically worst shooting team.

Pitt will try to halt its losing streak when it hosts Duke on Thursday at the Petersen Events Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m.

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