Panthers earn No. 10 seed in NCAA Tournament

By Chris Puzia / Sports Editor

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Only two years and one head coach removed from a season in which it did not win a single conference game, the Pitt women’s basketball team have grabbed a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Pitt (19-11, 9-7 ACC) earned a No. 10 seed in the tournament and will face No. 7 seed Chattanooga (29-3, 14-0 Southern) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday at 11 a.m. in Knoxville.

In her second year as head coach, replacing Agnus Berenato, Suzie McConnell-Serio has quickly turned the team around. While the team previously lost 33 consecutive conference games from 2011-14, it managed nine just this season. Senior point guard Brianna Kiesel attributed the turnaround to her coach.

“For coach to come in here and turn our program… in her second year we’re going to the NCAA Tournament,” Kiesel said. “How amazing is that?”

McConnell-Serio said the selection show was both stressful and exciting for her team.

“That was the longest hour of my life,” McConnell-Serio said about Monday’s selection show. “It’s been emotional … I’ve had tears. I’m just so proud of our team.”

Pitt will face a Chattanooga team that went undefeated in the Southern Conference this year. Its last loss came on Dec. 1 to Arkansas State, 57-52. 

Kiesel has led Pitt all season, averaging 18.2 points per game.

“Unbelievable is an understatement,” Kiesel said. “We didn’t get a chance to fully look at [the bracket], all we saw was Pittsburgh and we automatically jumped up ”

Senior center Cora McManus said the progress from her freshman year to now surprised even her.

“Nothing is ever out of reach,” McManus said. “If you go back to my freshman year, after that first season, it would have been a long time coming. But, being here now, it feels amazing.”

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