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The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
By Grace McNally, Staff Writer • June 13, 2024
Opinion | Long-distance friendships are possible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 6, 2024

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Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
By Grace McNally, Staff Writer • June 13, 2024
Opinion | Long-distance friendships are possible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 6, 2024

Pitt women’s basketball fall short in Backyard Brawl, loses to West Virginia 71-62

Junior+guard+Bella+Perkins+%2810%29+catches+a+pass+during+Saturdays+game+against+WVU+in+the+Petersen+Events+Center.
Ethan Shulman | Visual Editor
Junior guard Bella Perkins (10) catches a pass during Saturday’s game against WVU in the Petersen Events Center.

West Virginia took down Pitt women’s basketball 71-62 in another edition of the Backyard Brawl, bringing the Panthers’ record to 1-1 on the season.

Fifth year guard Lauren Fields led West Virginia in scoring with 23 points. West Virginia sophomore guard Jordan Harrison recorded 10 assists and 7 steals. Redshirt junior guard Kyah Watson recorded a double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Mountaineers.

Pitt senior forward Liatu King set her career high in scoring with a 28 point, 14 rebound double-double. Junior forward Rapuluchi Ayodele recorded a double-double as well with 18 points and 14 rebounds for the Panthers.

The Mountaineers came out with aggression that caught the Panthers off guard, recording two steals and scoring six points in the first 70 seconds. West Virginia came out in a full-court press and used the pressure to their advantage. Pitt had nine turnovers in the first quarter.

“We knew they were going to press,” said head coach Tory Verdi. “I thought we would’ve handled the pressure better.”

Harrison sliced up Pitt’s defense in transition, recording five assists in the first eight minutes.

West Virginia was getting to the paint at will, scoring three lay-ups in the first two minutes and 15 seconds of the game, forcing Verdi to call a timeout down 11-4 to talk things over with his starters. The conversation must have helped, as the Panthers worked the ball inside and found some success, with Ayodele scoring twice in the paint.

Pitt junior guard Bella Perkins re-entered the game with seven seconds left in the quarter and made up for a couple of turnovers with a buzzer-beating floater. 

The Panthers trailed 16-23 to the Mountaineers at the end of the first quarter.

West Virginia stayed with their full-court press into the second quarter, forcing Pitt sophomore guard Marley Washenitz to record two turnovers in under a minute. Washenitz ended the game with 12 turnovers, speaking volumes to the Mountaineers’ defense. 

Similar to the first quarter, the Panthers turned the ball over four times in the first two minutes and 17 seconds of the second quarter, forcing Verdi to call another timeout to find a solution trailing 16-30. 

King was the only bright spot for the Panthers so far with 12 points, 6 rebounds and only two turnovers with just over five minutes to play in the second quarter

King ignited a small rally from the Panthers with a block and bucket in transition on the offensive end, giving her 14 points in the first half. But Pitt recorded 19 turnovers in the first half, making its only ten point deficit surprising. 

Both teams entered the locker rooms with West Virginia up 39-29.

The Panthers came out of the locker room and recorded a turnover on their first possession. But Ayodele wasn’t going to let her team slip any further, intercepting two passes, grabbing three boards and finishing an and-one quickly in the third quarter. 

West Virginia called a timeout to slow down Pitt’s 8-0 run.

“We clawed our way back into the game,” Verdi said. “Came out of our locker room, made some adjustments. I’m really proud of that. There’s a lot of good there.”

Pitt sophomore guard Aislin Malcolm weaved through West Virginia’s defense, scoring a driving lay-up to give Pitt their first lead of the night 40-39, with 6:46 remaining in the quarter.

Frustration set in for the Mountaineers after a couple of defensive plays by Ayodele, but the Mountaineers recaptured their offensive firepower by making consecutive three-pointers by Fields. This gave West Virginia the lead 45-40 with 4:50 remaining in the third quarter. 

The first half was messy, but the second half was scrappy. Both teams played great half-court defense, but West Virginia continued to gain their defensive edge with their full-court press. The Panthers handled the press better than they did in the first half, but still committed four turnovers in the third quarter. 

West Virginia led 54-47 over Pitt at the end of the third quarter.

King continued to show confidence and comfort on the offensive end. The senior forward was one of the major spark plugs the Panthers needed when not much else was working. King found success using her strength in the paint to get lay-ups as well as operating in the mid-range around the free-throw line for several pull-up jumpers. 

“That shot is in the play,” said King. “The play call is for me to find the sweet spot in the zone, and I think I did most of the time.”

The Panthers dominated the boards, securing 46 compared to the Mountaineers grabbing only 29. But much of the credit has to go to King and Ayodele, who both grabbed 14 each.

With 6:28 left in the third quarter, Pitt called a play, which got Perkins a wide-open shot for her second three-pointer of the night, shrinking the deficit to 54-59.

Ayodele continued her paint dominance, finishing a put-back and-one to make the score 56-62 with 4:38 remaining. Pitt’s frontcourt was really their engine for the day. 

“These two beside me [King and Ayodele], really battled here today,” said Verdi.

The Mountaineers found efficient offense in the second half with junior guard JJ Quinerly, who found several shots by splitting Panther defenders and getting to the paint. Quinerly finished the game with 18 points.

In the end, the West Virginia defense proved too much for Pittsburgh, whose 28 turnovers tied a program record that they set against West Virginia in their last match-up five years ago.

“It’s just hard to win games when you turn the ball over 28 times,” said Verdi. “Give [West Virginia] credit for pressuring us and turning us over. I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of 28 turnovers.”

The Panthers lost to the Mountaineers with a final score of 71-62.

Pitt visits George Mason next for an away game at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 15.

About the Contributor
Conor Hutchison, Staff Writer