Panthers fall to short-handed Syracuse on the road, 80-72


Pamela Smith | Visual Editor

Amber Brown (5) shoots a free throw during the Pitt vs. NC State women’s basketball game at the Petersen Events Center on Friday, Dec. 10, 2021.

By Will McGlynn, Staff Writer

Pitt women’s basketball (11-10 overall, 2-8 ACC) traveled to the Carrier Dome to face off with Syracuse (9-10 overall, 2-7 ACC) in a battle of contrasting philosophies. The up-tempo, frequently substituting Panthers fought tooth and nail with the Orange, who played just six players, but ultimately the visitors lost 80-72.

Pitt and Syracuse couldn’t be more different in how they play. At halftime, Pitt had 38 rebounds already, 15 of which were offensive, while Syracuse only had 39 in the entire game. Syracuse dominated with guard play and outside shooting, consistently running the ball upcourt and hitting 3-pointers. It shot over 40% from the 3-point line and hit 13 while Pitt shot just 9.5% from the 3-point line and hit just two.

The two rivals were locked into an airtight battle from the tip. Neither team got more than one or two possessions ahead of the other. The Panthers were able to achieve a lead as large as five with a run late in the first quarter, sparked by an and-one and jump shot from senior guard Jayla Everett, with just over a minute left in the quarter. Pitt was winning 25-20 going into the second quarter.

Not to be outdone, the Orange started to slowly crawl back into the game. Senior guards Chrislyn Carr and Christianna Carr closed the half strong for the Orange, scoring six of the last eight points to end the quarter and give their team a 44-39 lead going into the half.

The Orange played an impressive third quarter, continuing to shoot well, while Pitt struggled to match them. The Panthers continued to dominate on the glass and found some success in the paint, but couldn’t close the gap. The Orange took the biggest lead of the night at 63-50 with 3:41 left to play in the third. It seemed like they were going to pull away, but the Panthers answered with an 8-0 run to close the half, highlighted by a 3-pointer from junior guard Destiny Strother, and went into the fourth quarter down 63-58.

As the fourth quarter rolled around, Pitt looked to push back against an Orange squad that had been running ragged all night. The Panthers started to get short-staffed Syracuse into some foul trouble and kept the game close, but couldn’t quite draw even. Every time Pitt got close, Chrislyn Carr or another Syracuse shooter would hit another 3-pointer to keep their opponents at bay.

Besides the poor shooting, the Panthers suffered when sophomore guard Liatu King went down with an injury while diving for a loose ball with just under two minutes left in the game. She didn’t continue to play, but no further information was available about her injury. Syracuse was also able to hit a 3-pointer while King was down on the floor, which put the game out of reach. King scored eight points and continued to dominate the glass pulling down six rebounds in just 12 minutes in the loss.

Pitt once again struggled to shoot the ball, hitting its first 3-pointer in the second half. The Panthers have developed an identity as a successful interior team, but the Orange collapsed on the ball often, while Pitt missed jump shots. Despite the huge rebounding advantage, the Panthers weren’t able to get their interior players enough space to operate, which led to lots of tough layups.

Syracuse’s lights-out shooting made it difficult for the turnover-prone Panthers to stay in the game. Pitt committed 23 turnovers in the loss despite Everett and junior guard Dayshanette Harris being sure with the ball. This was a teamwide issue, as every single Pitt player committed at least one turnover.

Everett had another difficult night scoring the basketball. She shot under 30% from the field and scored 11 points, most of which came in garbage time when Syracuse already had the game in hand. Everett and Harris both struggled with their shots which made it difficult for Pitt to get the offense rolling because they are the primary offensive threats.

Pitt will take on the Duke Blue Devils (13-5 overall, 4-4 ACC) on Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Petersen Events Center. The game will be on the ACCN Extra.