Poor shooting Pitt’s detriment in 62-45 loss to No. 17 Duke

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Poor shooting Pitt’s detriment in 62-45 loss to No. 17 Duke

By Logan Hitchcock / Staff Writer

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The Pitt women’s basketball team has battled teams to the final buzzer all season long, often leaving their eventual fate undecided until the final minutes. 

Thursday night was a different story for the Panthers, who trailed for all but little more than a minute of their game against No. 17 Duke. 

Coming off a close win at home against Boston College, the Lady Panthers (13-7, 3-4 ACC) traveled to Durham, N.C., looking to create a winning streak, only to be thumped by the Blue Devils (15-6, 6-2 ACC) at Cameron Indoor Stadium by a score of 62-45. 

The contest started slowly for the Panthers. After a few early Pitt turnovers and easy baskets by the Blue Devils, Pitt was lucky to find itself only down by three points, as Brianna Kiesel knocked down her first basket of the game — a 3-point field goal to cut the lead to 8-5 in favor of Duke. 

Five minutes in, it appeared that the Panthers caught a major break when Duke center Elizabeth Williams, a three-time All-American and reigning ACC Defensive Player of the Year, picked up her second foul and was taken out to avoid even more foul trouble. 

But even without the defensive presence of Williams on the court, the Panthers weren’t able to get anything going offensively, and Duke continued to get points in the paint to widen its lead. 

Led by Oderah Chidom and Azura Stevens, the Blue Devils forced coach Suzie McConnell-Serio to call a timeout with 12:04 remaining in the half, as a Stevens jumper put the Blue Devils on top by 11 points. 

With Williams still on the bench, Pitt had its chance to climb back into the game. The Panthers kept Duke scoreless for six straight possessions and more than three whole minutes, but they were completely unsuccessful offensively, only mustering one Kiesel basket before Duke’s Rebecca Greenwell snapped Duke’s scoreless streak and hit a 3-point jumper to increase the lead and diminish the Panthers hopes at ever getting back into the game.  

Pitt, which attempted 29 3-pointers in the game, connected on two of their seven makes during the final minutes of the first half but continued to yield easy buckets to Duke and found themselves down by 16 points as the first half concluded. 

Looking to improve on its abysmal 27.6 percent shooting in the first half, Pitt started the second half with a lot of intensity, forcing four straight Duke turnovers. 

But the Panthers couldn’t seem to find the bottom of the basket, missing shots and squandering an opportunity to chip away at the Duke lead, coming away with only one point on a Kiesel free throw during Duke’s scoreless span.

Kiesel was one of the lone bright spots for the Pitt team on the night. The senior finished with 13 points on 5-14 from the field, pitching in three assists and three steals. 

One of Kiesel’s three steals came as she flashed her quick hands and robbed Duke’s Ka’lia Johnson, but Kiesel was unable to convert the turnover into points as Johnson hustled after her and blocked her shot from behind. 

While Pitt was plagued offensively, the team thrived on the defensive front, creating turnovers and containing Duke’s best player, Elizabeth Williams, who was coming off of a 33-point, 10-rebound, four-block performance against UNC. 

While Williams didn’t make a difference offensively, she made her mark on the defensive end, finishing with a pair of steals and three blocks, including a monster swat on Pitt’s Cora McManus, sending the ball into the crowd and eliciting a large roar from the Cameron Crazies.

As the clocked trickled down in the second half, Pitt’s inspired defensive effort lived on, causing five turnovers and keeping Duke scoreless over a span of four and a half minutes, and frustration amongst the Panthers, who routinely wound up without points on the offensive end. 

Still, Pitt’s inability to turn turnovers into points kept them from getting back into the game. Pitt wound up shooting 30 percent from the field in the second half, a slight improvement on the first, but only connected on three of its 15 3-point field goal attempts, never mounting enough of an offensive attack to cut into the Duke lead. 

Pitt will look to turn things around this Sunday as it takes on Miami in another ACC matchup at the Petersen Events Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m.


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