Pitt women stay strong

By Sergei Feldman

While students scattered home to celebrate the holidays, the Pitt women’s basketball team… While students scattered home to celebrate the holidays, the Pitt women’s basketball team celebrated with victories, capturing four of five wins during the semester break. Pitt 85, West Virginia State 37 A balanced attack led to the 85-37 home victory over West Virginia State on Dec. 13, as five Panthers scored in double digits. Pitt coach Agnus Berenato praised her team’s efforts. ‘I think this is how you have to win,’ Berenato told pittsburghpanthers.com. ‘We had five players in double figures today, and so many of our players contributing all different kinds of key stats.’ Freshman center Kate Popovec led the way with a career-high 17 points, helping the Panthers cruise to a 48-point victory. Popovec added 10 rebounds in her dominant outing. Shayla Scott joined Popovec with a sterling performance. The sophomore collected 14 points and 14 rebounds in 25 minutes. Other double-digit scorers included Taneisha Harrison (15 points), Chelsea Cole (11 points) and Shavonte Zellous (10 points). West Virginia State entered halftime with a 14-point deficit, but the second half proved a different story, as the Panthers outscored the Yellow Jackets 49-15. Pitt 98, Wagner 41 Pitt’s performance against Wagner resembled its effort against West Virginia State, as the Panthers walked away with a 98-41 victory at the Petersen Events Center on Dec. 16. The parallel came in the form of a balanced attack, as all five Pitt starters ended the contest in double figures. After a subpar outing against West Virginia State, Zellous stood out, scoring a game-high 26 points. Joining Zellous on the score sheet were Harrison with 17 points, Scott with 12 and freshman center Shawnice ‘Pepper’ Wilson with 10. Pitt controlled the match from the tip, but another second-half effort helped put the game away, as the Panthers outscored Wagner 52-18 on their way to a 57-point victory. Pitt 89, Florida A’amp;M 59 The Panthers extended their winning streak to nine games with an 89-59 victory over Florida A’amp;M on Dec. 19. Zellous continued her strong efforts on the court, finishing with 21 points in Pitt’s first road game since Dec. 3 at Duquesne. Senior Xenia Stewart, however, was the shining star of the match, leading the Panthers with a 27-point effort. Ranked 16th in the country after the victory, Pitt entered its next game against Florida looking for its 10th consecutive triumph. Florida 90, Pitt 83 In an effort to sweep the state of Florida, the Panthers could only come close, losing to Florida in Gainesville 90-83 on Dec. 21. The loss snapped Pitt’s nine-game wining streak. Meanwhile, the then-No. 20 Gators extended their winning streak to 11 games. Despite the setback, the night was memorable for Zellous, as the standout guard finished with a career-high 42 points. The Florida native also collected six assists and four rebounds. Trailing 55-46, Zellous and Stewart (who finished with 15 points) turned things around with a 24-7 run. Florida’s Lonnika Thompson reversed fortunes back in the Gators’ favor, hitting three consecutive 3-pointers to keep the Gators in front. ‘ A crucial offensive rebound, timely steals and clutch free throws by Florida were too much to handle for the Panthers. Thompson finished with a career-high 16 points, while Sha Brooks notched 24 in Florida’s victory. ‘ Pitt 93, Western Kentucky 50 ‘ After losing a close match against Florida, the Panthers got back on the winning track Dec. 30 with a 93-50 effort against Western Kentucky. ‘ The win improved the Panthers’ record to 10-2 for the year. ‘ Both Zellous and Stewart finished with 17 points, while Harrison helped with 13 and Popovec had 10. The defensive effort extended beyond just the score sheet to another statistical category, as the Panthers fell one block short of tying the school record. ‘ Pitt finished with 11 rejections with a balanced attack, as junior Sophronia Sallard, Scott and Wilson each finished with three blocks.