Pitt faces second straight ranked team at home

By Chris Puzia / Sports Editor

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The Pitt women’s basketball team made the case in its last game that even a loss can be encouraging for a team.

The Panthers (10-4, 0-1 ACC) dropped a close contest to No. 7 Louisville (14-1, 2-0 ACC) 63-57, despite leading for much of the game. Led by senior Brianna Kiesel, who scored 19 points, the team gave a scare to one of the top teams in the conference, but came just short of what would have been the program’s biggest win in years.

Still, head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio is beginning to make her presence felt in improving the program. Through 14 games last year, the Panthers were 8-6. The Panthers were 9-5 the year before, like this year, but finished that season with a 9-21 overall record. The team has started well before, as seen in the graph, but this year’s team has looked more promising in its wins, and even in some of its losses.

The Panthers will next face another top-10 opponent in No. 8 North Carolina on Thursday night at the Petersen Events Center. Sophomore guard Allisha Gray leads the Tar Heels with 16.8 points per game and is second on the team with 7.9 rebounds per game.

The Tar Heels’ (14-1, 1-0 ACC) lone loss came to Oregon State on Dec. 16. In its ACC opener, UNC beat in-state rival North Carolina State 72-56 on Sunday. Last year, Pitt played against six teams that finished the season ranked, but did not beat any of them en route to a 3-13 conference finish. Before Louisville, the Panthers also faced then-No. 23 James Madison earlier this season, who defeated Pitt by a score of 80-64 on Nov. 23.

However, last season — McConnell-Serio’s first as head coach — did see the Panthers snap a 33-game regular season conference losing streak that dated back to the 2010-2011 season when Agnes Berenato was still the team’s head coach.

Thursday’s contest against North Carolina tips off at 7 p.m.

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