Slow start leads to Pitt loss at No. 25 Syracuse

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Slow start leads to Pitt loss at No. 25 Syracuse

By Chris Puzia / Sports Editor

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The Pitt’s women’s basketball team lost its luck and the lead shortly after halftime in the Carrier Dome.

Pitt, which led No. 25 Syracuse by six points at the half, went on to make only five more baskets en route to a 68-54 loss. The poor second-half shooting performance doomed the Panthers (18-9, 8-6 ACC) against No. 25 Syracuse on Sunday afternoon, as the Orange outscored the visitors 33-13 after halftime.

Pitt shot 51.5 percent from the field in the first half, but shot 17.9 percent in the second half. Uncharacteristically, Brianna Kiesel did not lead Pitt in scoring. 

The senior point guard scored 11 points, while graduate student forward Monica Wignot paced the team with 14 points. Kiesel shot only one of seven from 3-point range and recorded three assists compared to four turnovers.

As a team, Pitt turned the ball over 19 times, while Syracuse only committed 13 turnovers.

Pitt shadowed Syracuse (20-8, 10-5 ACC) closely to open up the second half, after leading 41-35 at halftime. But an 8-0 Orange run with eight minutes left in the game gave the home team a 56-50 lead it would not relinquish.

Junior guard Brianna Butler led Syracuse with 19 points, but it was sophomore center Briana Day who troubled the Panthers most.

Day scored 15 points and grabbed a game-high 18 rebounds, nine of which came off the offensive glass. She also was the only player to stay in the game for all 40 minutes and added five blocks and three steals.

Freshman forward Stasha Carey, who contributed much of Pitt’s interior scoring, fouled out of the game. She was the only Panther to record double-digit rebounds with 11.

Though the lead changed 11 times over the course of the game, most of the flip-flopping  came in a back-and-forth first half. The Orange used several short scoring runs to slowly pull away from the Panthers.

Two separate 8-0 runs in the second half and an extended 12-6 run over the final seven minutes of the game iced the win for the home team.

Much of Pitt’s late struggles came from its inefficiency on offense. Only one Panther shot even 50 percent from the field — Wignot, who made six of her 12 shots. Carey shot only four of 10 and freshman guard Aysia Bugg made one of her five shots in the game.

Pitt’s shooting struggles also extended to the free throw line. The team shot only 42.9 percent from the line as a team, compared to Syracuse’s 64 percent.

While Pitt is still in the running for an NCAA tournament spot — many projections currently have the Panthers in the tournament — a win in its next game would go a long way toward sealing that slot.

The team next travels to South Bend to take on No. 4 Notre Dame on Thursday.

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