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Christmas trees in Schenley Plaza.
‘Christmas Day at Pitt’ gathers community for free meals, clothes and gifts
By Spencer Levering, Senior Staff Writer • December 8, 2023

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Christmas trees in Schenley Plaza.
‘Christmas Day at Pitt’ gathers community for free meals, clothes and gifts
By Spencer Levering, Senior Staff Writer • December 8, 2023

Pitt women’s basketball notches first win of the season with 79-74 victory over Yale

Junior+guard+Bella+Perkins+%2810%29+shoots+the+three+pointer+to+guarantee+the+win+during+Tuesday+night%E2%80%99s+game+against+Yale+in+the+Petersen+Events+Center.+
Ethan Shulman | Visual Editor
Junior guard Bella Perkins (10) shoots the three pointer to guarantee the win during Tuesday night’s game against Yale in the Petersen Events Center.

The Tory Verdi era of Pitt women’s basketball is off to a hot start with a 79-74 win over Yale, taking its record to 1-0 on the season. 

Pitt senior forward Liatu King’s performance proved crucial in the win, as she recorded a double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Junior guard Bella Perkins led the Panthers in scoring with 21 points. Pitt head coach Tory Verdi was impressed with the Panthers’ performance.

“This isn’t a rebuilding year,” Verdi said. “I expect to go out there and compete each and every night. I love working with these guys.”

Yale senior guard Jenna Clark was a standout performer for the Bulldogs with 19 points and nine assists. 

“We knew that [Clark] was a dynamic scoring guard and is really scrappy with the ball,” Verdi said. “When I was at UMass, we played Yale, so I knew exactly what she was going to do tonight. This was a test, and we’re going to build off of this.”

Pitt started off the game hot, scoring nine points in the first two minutes of action, as well as making several impressive plays on the defensive end. 

Sophomore guard Marley Washenitz scored the first bucket of the night with a tough right-hand finish through contact. Washenitz then got a block and converted an assist to Perkins mere seconds later.

But Yale stopped the bleeding quickly with Clark converting consecutive jumpers in transition. Clark had 10 points in the first quarter.

Sophomore guard Marley Washenitz (11) breaks past a defender during Tuesday night’s game against Yale in the Petersen Events Center. (Ethan Shulman | Visual Editor)

The two teams showed similar styles of play early on. Both sides were getting out fast in transition and trying to get easy buckets, as well as shooting the three ball. Other than a second-chance layup by King to put Pitt up 9-2, there wasn’t much going for either team down low early.

Yale had the upper hand at the end of the first quarter with a score of 23-18.

King and junior forward Rapuluchi Ayodele, who finished with seven offensive rebounds and 11 total, came out of the break with high energy, each recording a block in the first two minutes of the second quarter. With that high energy, the Panthers moved more confidently on offense. 

Pitt sophomore guard Aislin Malcolm showed some confidence as well, making three consecutive baskets for the Panthers. Malcolm only needed a few crossovers to get to the rack for a left-handed layup to make the score 26-25 with 6:56 left in the second quarter.

Washenitz, meanwhile, continued to prove herself on the defensive end, drawing back-to-back offensive fouls on Clark.

In the middle of the second quarter, graduate student forward Jala Jordan drew a lot of attention from Yale defenders and used that to her advantage, finding her teammates in the paint and allowing them to get fouled. 

Jordan, who finished with three steals, was also drawing attention on defense as well, deterring Yale from attempting more than two layups in the second quarter.

“I know that I have a coaching staff that’s rooting for me and that wants the best for me,” Jordan said. “That instills even more confidence in me.”

Perkins also continued to prove herself as an isolation threat, scoring on a stepback jumper to increase the lead to 36-29 with just under two minutes left in the half. The USC transfer said that Verdi’s trust in her abilities was a major factor in her decision to come to Pitt. 

“From the jump, even my visit, I could just tell there was something there with the trust here,” Perkins said. “Having a good relationship with your coaches all the time means that they trust us, and we trust him.”

Pitt made 12 free throws in the final five minutes of the second quarter, which helped it take a 42-34 lead going into the break at halftime.

Yale started the second half with several unforced mistakes. A bad pass by Clark and an offensive foul by senior guard Klara Astrom resulted in turnovers. Clark made up for it with consecutive drive-and-kick passes to open shooters, but the shots did not fall.

The Panthers continued their defensive intensity to start the half. King and Jordan, in particular, continued to make their presence known. King recorded a steal, and Jordan cashed in a block with a transition layup on the other end to extend the Panthers’ lead to 51-38 with 6:06 remaining in the third quarter. 

But Yale went on a run at the end of the third quarter, scoring four straight field goals to cut the score to 50-56 in favor of Pitt with 1:39 left in the quarter. Clark assisted three of those four buckets for Yale.

Pitt eventually recovered following the Bulldogs’ run. Jordan recorded a steal and a floater on the other end stopped the bleeding. 

The Panthers found themselves in foul trouble at the end of the third quarter. Despite Washenitz, Jordan and Ayodele holding three fouls each, the Panthers led 58-52 to end the third quarter.

Those troubles persisted into the fourth quarter, as Jordan picked up her fourth foul to give Yale junior guard Christen McCann an and-one opportunity.

A duel between guards broke out in the final minutes. Clark decided that the Bulldogs needed a spark and laced a three-pointer from the logo to make the score 66-73 in favor of the Panthers with 3:37 left in the game. But Perkins quickly answered, draining a three-pointer of her own.

Clark made two more three-pointers from the same spot on the left wing. Pitt led 76-74 with a minute left before Perkins cashed in another deep three-pointer to seal a Pitt victory.

“I just let it fly,” Perkins said about her late shot. “I was in rhythm and I felt confident shooting the ball. When I don’t think, it goes in, so I just let it fly. If it’s not a good shot, I feel like we can get something better, I won’t shoot it.”

The Panthers ultimately walked away with the 79-74 victory.

Pitt will take the court next against West Virginia on Saturday at home. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.

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