Offense comes alive as Panthers halt losing streak

By Ben Duignan

After two straight Big East losses, the Pitt’s women basketball team knew it had to take care of… After two straight Big East losses, the Pitt’s women basketball team knew it had to take care of business at home on Saturday against South Florida. It did so in a definitive fashion, blowing out the Bulls 79-47 despite falling behind early in the contest. The victory upped the Panthers’ record to 12-4, 2-2 in the Big East. Pitt coach Agnus Berenato wanted to see her seniors step up and lead her team to victory in response to back-to-back defeats to Providence and DePaul last week. Xenia Stewart answered Berenato’s call, despite tallying only three points. ‘I want to give kudos to Xenia Stewart,’ said Berenato. ‘Anytime you can play 26 minutes, have nine assists and no turnovers, I’m really proud of her.’ While Stewart might not have been the one scoring, she got plenty of help from her supporting cast.’ Shavonte Zellous had 27 points, while Taneisha Harrison added 13. Shawnice ‘Pepper’ Wilson contributed a double-double to the winning effort with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Berenato commended Zellous, one of the nation’s leading scorers, after she struggled a bit in the first half. ‘I thought Shavonte really started out rattled,’ said Berenato. ‘In the second half she really settled down. She got rebounds and scored great baskets.’ The start of the game saw sloppy play from both teams, but Shayla Scott got the offense started for the Panthers, hitting two 3-pointers to start the scoring. South Florida stayed close to the Panthers for the first eight minutes of the game, and the Bulls held a 13-11 lead with 12 minutes to go in the first period. Then, Pitt pulled away on an 11-0 run, fueled by hot shooting that capitalized on turnovers by the Bulls. South Florida countered with a 6-2 run of its own, but that was the last sign of life the Bulls showed. Pitt sparked another 11-0 run and led at the half, 37-19. The Bulls’ struggles centered around their inability to make shots, especially behind the arc. South Florida shot 20.7 percent from the field in the first half, while only making one 3-pointer on 10 attempts.’ The second half wasn’t much better for the Bulls, as they didn’t make another 3-pointer in nine more second-half attempts until a last-second shot before the final buzzer. ‘A lot of our 19 3-pointers were open looks, but that’s been our problem in our first five conference games,’ said South Florida coach Jose Fernandez.’ South Florida’s four perimeter players are a combined 45-of-184 shooting in the team’s first five Big East contests. Shooting 35 percent from the field, the Panthers weren’t stellar in the first half, but they were able to make up for it by putting up 11 more shots than the Bulls. The Panthers also hit 44 percent of their shots from behind the 3-point line. The second half saw less streaky scoring from both sides, but Pitt dominated the Bulls for the next 20 minutes. Porche Grant was the only Bull to end in double figures, finishing with 11 points.’ Next up for the Panthers are three conference road games against Seton Hall, Syracuse and Georgetown. The Panthers knew the South Florida game was one they had to put in the win column. ‘I’m just really proud of my team,’ said Berenato.