Women’s basketball: Panthers aim for 4th consecutive win when they head to DePaul

By Kelly Flanigan

After an early and brutal stretch of Big East games, the women’s basketball team (15-11, 4-9… After an early and brutal stretch of Big East games, the women’s basketball team (15-11, 4-9 Big East) amassed five consecutive losses. They lost to Marquette, South Florida, Rutgers and twice to West Virginia.

The Panthers’ first Big East victory of the season came against the Providence Friars on Jan. 23. Since then, they have accumulated a record of 1-4 in the Big East, falling to Connecticut, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Georgetown.

The Panthers broke their losing streak when they defeated the Louisville Cardinals 72-69 and achieved their second Big East win.

With the exception of their matchup against Connecticut, the biggest margin of points the Panthers lost in a game this season was only 15 and 14 points against West Virginia and Providence, respectively.

On Feb. 10, Pitt lost a heart-wrenching contest against the Georgetown Hoyas by three points.

“We’ve had some tough setbacks in the past few games, and with Georgetown, we all felt as if our guts were ripped out,” head coach Agnes Berenato said.

Berenato cited an early problem for the team was that nobody wanted to take shots.

“It’s important to have others scoring because we don’t have that one player that can do it on her own. We don’t have Shavonte Zellous to put up a ton of points. Therefore, we have to balance out the scoring and the assists,” Berenato said.

Redshirt junior guard Brittaney Thomas did not have this issue when the Panthers took on Louisville at home, though. She scored a career-high 22 points and led Pitt to a narrow victory.

Pitt dropped Villanova on the road, 74-69, with Chelsea Cole and Shayla Scott both tallying double-doubles and five Panthers scoring in double digits.

The team continued this winning stretch to collect its third consecutive win against the Seton Hall Pirates 78-57 on Saturday.

Now, the Panthers are gearing up to take on the DePaul Blue Demons (17-10, 6-7 Big East), who are coming fresh off a 72-63 win against Marquette.

DePaul is led in scoring by Sam Quigley, who averages 14.2 points per game. 6-foot-3 Katherine Harry leads the team in rebounding and averages 7.5 points per game.

Deirdre Naughton, a senior guard on the team and definitive leader on the court, tore her right ACL playing Northwestern at the beginning of the season.

“Deirdre Naughton has been the heart and soul of this basketball team,” DePaul head coach Doug Bruno said. “To lose her for the season is a devastating blow to this team. Losing Deirdre will test the mettle of this year’s ball club, and we do expect every member of our team to step up in her absence.”

Recently, sophomore forward Keisha Hampton stepped up for the Blue Demons in Naughton’s absence and scored a career-high 28 points against Notre Dame.

Boasting victories against Cincinnati, Marquette and Villanova, DePaul suffered significant losses to Notre Dame and Connecticut by a combined total of 57 points.

DePaul will close out its season with Big East games against Syracuse and South Florida, while two games remain on Pitt’s schedule: an away game at Cincinnati on Feb. 27 and a home game against St. John’s on March 1.

Tipoff is set for 9 p.m. at the McGrath Arena.