Women’s Basketball: After three-game winning streak, Panthers coming off loss on their way to Cincinnati

By Lauren Kirschman

The Pitt women’s basketball team fell back into bad habits against DePaul on Wednesday,… The Pitt women’s basketball team fell back into bad habits against DePaul on Wednesday, four days after it played arguably its best conference game against Seton Hall.

When the Panthers (14-12, 4-10) travel to Cincinnati (11-15, 4-10) for a 2 p.m. game Saturday, they will look to return to the play that helped them go on a three-game winning streak before falling to DePaul.

When the Panthers played Seton Hall on Feb. 20, they committed 14 total turnovers, including just eight in the first half, pulling away for a 78-57 victory.

It was Pitt’s largest margin of victory in conference games this yea .

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The low number of turnovers was a win in itself, as the Panthers average 17.8 miscues per game. Versus DePaul, the Panthers turned the ball over 20 times.

Pitt also started to show some offensive balance against Seton Hall, as five different players reached double figures.

Taneisha Harrison led the way with 20 points, Brittaney Thomas added 13 and Jania Sims, Shayla Scott and Chelsea Cole all chipped in with 10. Shawnice “Pepper” Wilson was one point away from double digits.

“The girls — they have confidence in each other now,” Pitt head coach Agnus Berenato said after the win. “They realize that this is their team. For us, everyone has to contribute. We’re a small team. We don’t have those 12 girls to pull from so our five players out on the court need to score.”

Against the Blue Demons, however, the balanced scoring didn’t continue.

Harrison led the Panthers again with 21 points. While Sims added 17 and Cole contributed 12, no other Pitt player scored more than 4 points.

Only five players scored for the Panthers in the loss.

Harrison and Sims combined to shoot 14-27 from the field. The rest of the team shot 6-33 and combined the Panthers shot 33.3 percent from the field.

In contrast, Pitt shot 51.6 percent against Seton Hall, its highest in conference play.

Furthermore, the Panthers jumped out to a lead against Seton Hall, a lead they sustained for the victory.

Against DePaul, the Panthers fell behind early and were unable to recover.

“When you have a lead, your shot just goes a little bit easier, your defense looks a little bit better and I think you can rebound a little bit better,” Berenato said.

However, one statistic remained steady for Pitt between the two games. Cole pulled down a career-high 22 rebounds against Seton Hall and followed that performance with 18 boards against DePaul.

“Chelsea [Cole] was a beast today getting the double-double,” Berenato said after the Seton Hall game. “We [the post] are realizing that we can jump and rebound, and that it’s fun.”

In order to defeat Cincinnati, Cole must continue her strong rebounding. Also, it’s essential that the Panthers return to a lower turnover total and balanced scoring. If they can do that, it’s unlikely that they will fall behind early.

Cincinnati is an experienced squad, with four upperclassmen as its top scorers. Three of those players average double figures.

Senior guard Kahla Roudebush leads the team with 13.1 points per game.

Junior Shareese Ulis and redshirt junior Michelle Jones add 11.6 and 10.2 points, respectively.

Jones also pulls down a team-high 7.2 points per game. Jones was redshirted in the 2007-08 season but returned last season to bring power to the boards for the Bearcats.

In their last game, the Bearcats fell 64-43 to West Virginia. Roudebush led the team with 15 points, while Ulis added 12 points. No other Cincinnati player reached double figures.