Women’s Basketball: Panthers prepare for holiday tournament

By Torie Wytiaz

The Pitt campus might appear vacant over the Thanksgiving holiday, but the women’s basketball… The Pitt campus might appear vacant over the Thanksgiving holiday, but the women’s basketball team invited Appalachian State, Marshall and Miami (Ohio) to town as part of its Thanksgiving Tournament at the Petersen Events Center.

The No. 24 Panthers (3-0) take on Appalachian State on Friday at 1 p.m. and the matchup between Marshall and Miami will follow.

As the Panthers anticipate the opening round of the tournament, the expectations that accompany a national ranking are evident.

Head coach Agnus Berenato, having recently celebrated her 400th coaching victory, is not a stranger to such national accolades, but stresses the responsibility that her team now has.

“We have been ranked before,” Berenato said. “This may be the earliest in the season for our team. Now we have a target on our back, and we know that every team, including Appalachian State, is looking for an upset.”

While the tournament contests are not against conference opponents, the opportunity to play in additional games over the holiday break is essential for the Panthers’ development.

“We look to improve each day, in every game and in every practice,” Berenato said. “Hopefully this tournament will allow us to grow even more as a team and continue our progress.”

One area of the team that has progressed this season is the stellar play of Taneisha Harrison and Jania Sims.

Harrison, a junior, scored a career-high 25 points in both of her previous two games, while redshirt junior Sims has emerged as the team leader.

“Sims and Harrison have been fabulous for us in the opening games of this season,” Berenato said. “They are like a dynamic duo on the court and their contribution to the team has been outstanding.”

Appalachian State (1-2) has lost its last two games and will look to their leading scorer, junior guard Sam Ramirez, for a spark against Pitt.

“Appalachian State is our primary focus right now and we want to make sure that we prepare as necessary for that game,” Berenato said. “We have scouted Marshall and Miami so that we will also be prepared for the next contest.”

The consolation game will be held on Saturday at 4 p.m., followed by the championship game at 6 p.m.