Women’s basketball: Pitt, Cincy looking for second league win

By Greg Trietley

Mired in a four-game losing streak, the Pitt women’s basketball team has seen the winning… Mired in a four-game losing streak, the Pitt women’s basketball team has seen the winning record it brought into 2011 evaporate.

But as bad as the results have been for the Panthers in recent contests, the Cincinnati Bearcats are going through worse.

Losers of six in a row, the Bearcats have been playing games with only seven available players due to a rash of injuries.

When the two teams meet tonight at 7 at the Petersen Events Center, the winner will take the first step toward resurrecting a calendar year that has battered and beaten it in more ways than one.

Pitt (9-11, 1-6 Big East) lost in overtime to the Marquette Golden Eagles, 74-70, at home Saturday afternoon. The Panthers took the lead with less than 30 seconds to play, but Marquette’s Tatiyiana McMorris hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game to overtime.

In overtime, Pitt’s Ashlee Anderson attempted a game-tying 3-pointer in the dying seconds, but her shot didn’t fall. The Panthers’ winless streak stretched to four games as they suffered arguably their most disappointing loss of the season, according to head coach Agnus Berenato.

“I thought we played well enough to win, and we lost,” Berenato said after the game. “It’s really heartbreaking for this team because this is a win we really needed. We thought we were going to get it.”

Cincinnati (8-12, 1-7 Big East) needs a victory as badly as Pitt does, but winning hasn’t been possible with only two players available off the bench.

Chanel Chisholm hasn’t played since she sprained her ankle earlier this month. Daress McClung’s ailing Achilles tendon has kept her on the sidelines for most of the season. Forward Elese Daniel tore her ACL in the preseason and will remain out for the rest of the year.

And with Dayeesha Hollins sitting out a year after transferring from Michigan, three freshmen — Tiffany Turner, Jeanise Randolph and Kayla Cook — start for the Bearcats.

Louisville coach Jeff Walz expressed sympathy for the situation Cincinnati head coach Jamelle Elliott is in, and other coaches have done the same after wins over the depleted squad.

“Jamelle is a friend,” Walz said after his Cardinals beat the Bearcats, 83-47, last week. “I understand. It is frustrating. You’re out there, things aren’t going well, you look at your bench and half your team is hurt. It is demoralizing. I know exactly what she’s going through.”

Cincinnati hasn’t scored more than 48 points in a game during its losing streak. On Saturday, Connecticut handed the Bearcats their sixth consecutive double-digit defeat, 80-46.

Cook led the Bearcats with 13 points in the loss, and Shareese Ulis added 12. Ulis, one of two healthy seniors, is eighth in the Big East in scoring with 15 points per game.

Connecticut out-rebounded Cincinnati by nearly a 2-to-1 margin. On Tuesday night, the job underneath the rim doesn’t get any easier — Pitt’s Chelsea Cole is tied for the conference lead in rebounding (9.6 rebounds per game).

With Cole down low and guards Taneisha Harrison and Jania Sims both averaging double-digit points, Pitt has the tools to break out of its slump.

Turnovers, though, have hurt the Panthers — only Cincinnati’s freshman-dominated lineup has a worse turnover margin than Pitt does in the Big East this year.