Pitt women’s basketball falls to Clemson 71-53 in ACC tournament first-round


Pamela Smith | Visual Editor

NC State women’s basketball player Elissa Cunane (33) blocks Pitt player Mary Dunn (15) from catching a rebound during the Pitt vs. NC State game on Jan. 6.

By Mason Carter, Staff Writer

With their season on the line, Pitt women’s basketball still came up short.

The Panthers’(10-19, 3-15 ACC) hopes of an ACC tournament run ended on Wednesday, falling to Clemson (16-14, 7-11 ACC) 71-53 in Greensboro, North Carolina. After a disappointing year, this loss will likely end the Panthers’ season, as they are longshots to reach the NCAA tournament. 

This game was the Panthers second time playing the Tigers this season. They lost their first game 72-57 in Pittsburgh on Jan. 15. Coming in as big underdogs, the Panthers hoped to snag a major upset against a red-hot Clemson team. Before coming to the ACC tournament, Clemson won three of its last five games, including an upset against No. 5 seed Florida State.

Pitt, on the other hand, had the opposite luck, losing three of its last five games of the regular season. The Panthers are victims of close defeats, losing eleven of their conference games by five points or less.

The first quarter was close, featuring seven lead changes. After going down early in the first quarter, graduate student guard Channise Lewis and sophomore forward Maliyah Johnson handled the scoring to help the Panthers take an 11-10 lead. 

Following back-to-back Tiger baskets off a turnover, Clemson went into the media timeout with a 14-11 lead. But then Panther senior guard Dayshanette Harris went on a five-point run, finishing a layup as time expired on the shot clock and a three-pointer on the next possession. 

The Panthers would eventually hold Clemson scoreless for the last five minutes of the quarter, finishing with a 16-14 lead. 

After a well-played first quarter, the Panthers weren’t able to hold any of that success for the rest of the game. Clemson opened the second quarter on a 14-0 run, as the Panthers struggled to hit a shot, missing their first 10 field goals of the quarter. 

Eventually, Pitt scored its first points of the quarter with a pair of free throws from senior forward Amber Brown at the 3:24 mark. Brown would go on to hit the Panthers only field goal of the quarter — a layup with 1:50 left in the quarter. 

Clemson entered the half with a secure 33-20 lead, which wasn’t threatened for the rest of the game. Pitt’s leading scorer at halftime was graduate-student guard Channise Lewis, with six points. Meanwhile, senior forward Hannah Hank led for Clemson with 12 points, off five for eight shooting.

Coming into the second half, the Panthers’ repeated shooting struggles continued, as they went on a drought for more than two minutes. Senior guard Daisha Bradford led all scorers in the third quarter, with eight points after a quiet first half. After a rough third quarter for the Panthers, Clemson went into the fourth quarter with a 50-36 lead.

The fourth quarter didn’t see much change, as the Panthers weren’t able to contain the Tigers and their shooting. But a three-pointer from Harris and a three-point play from Brown cut the Tigers’ lead to 11. This deficit was the closest the Panthers came to catching up in the fourth quarter, as Clemson quickly expanded its lead back to 16.

Clemson cruised into a 71-52 win. The loss ended the Panthers’ hopes for an ACC tournament run and likely ended their season entirely. 

Ultimately, shooting cost Pitt. The Panthers shot 30.6% from the field, as they just weren’t able to knock down shots. Also, Clemson picked apart the Panthers’ zone defense, having assisted 22 of their 26 field goals.

As Pitt struggled to shoot, Clemson took advantage of its open shots, knocking down a tournament-record 11 threes out of 25. Clemson’s shooting, combined with 14 turnovers, was too much for the Panthers to overcome. 

Brown, who finished with 16 points — six shy of the 1,000 point career mark — led Pitt. Meanwhile, Harris finished with 12 points in the last game of both players’ college careers. Hank, who finished with 19 points and seven rebounds, led Clemson. Bradford also had 15 points, six assists and four steals — an all-around impressive stat line.

Clemson will face No. 7 seed North Carolina on Thursday at 6 p.m. If they don’t reach the postseason, the Panthers finish the season with a 10-20 overall record, with some questions to answer about the future of the program.