Kiesel’s 29 points spur Pitt to victory

By Jeremy Tepper / Staff Writer

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When Pitt needs a bucket or a momentum boost, it’s no secret who it looks to: Brianna Kiesel. With 3:42 left in the game, the team did just that and the senior point guard delivered. Kiesel drew a foul and made the 3-pointer from the wing, converting the free throw to move Pitt within one, 67-66.

That was just the momentum boost that the Pitt women’s basketball team needed, going on a 16-3 run in the last 3:42 to spur Pitt (13-6, 3-3 ACC) to a 78-70 victory over Boston College (9-11, 1-6).

“That was a huge momentum swing,” Kiesel said. “It [a four-point play] hardly ever happens and when it does everybody gets a boost of energy.”

Head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio said she drew up that play out of a timeout, but she did not anticipate the result of it.

“Wasn’t executed exactly the way it was supposed to happen, but Monica [Wignot] set a great screen, Bri stepped behind it and nailed it,” McConnell-Serio said.

Following the four point play, Wignot hit a 3-pointer off an assist from Kiesel to give Pitt a 69-67 lead. From there, Pitt didn’t look back, never relinquishing the lead.

But Kiesel contributed much more than swing the momentum with her four-point play. The guard spearheaded Pitt’s offense, netting 29 points, 8 assists and only turning the ball over two times.

This type of performance has become typical for Kiesel, who ranks fifth in the ACC in scoring and first in assists and assist-to-turnover ratio.

“I think I’m spoiled, because I do come to expect those types of performances from her,” McConnell-Serio said.

Among her 29 points, fifteen came from 3-pointers, as Kiesel made five of eleven from behind the arc. Overall, Pitt shot 11 of 29 on 3-pointers, with four coming from Wignot.

Wignot finished the game with 18 points and nine rebounds and has now hit 13 of 27 3-pointers in her last three games.

Pitt wasn’t the only team with great success behind the arc, as Boston College, the nation’s 17th ranked team in 3-pointers a game, nailed nine of 20 from long range. Kelly Hughes, Boston College’s leading scorer on the year, hit four threes and compiled 18 points in total. Nicole Boudreau made three.

“They did a good job of finding ways to score, utilizing the post player in the middle of the floor,” McConnell-Serio said. “When we made a mistake, whether we were supposed to switch or didn’t switch or didn’t get over a screen, they capitalized.”

It was these 3-pointers, along with mistakes and missed offensive opportunities on offense by Pitt, that allowed Boston College to go on a 20-9 run in a 10-minute stretch to take a 60-55 lead with 7:07 remaining in the game.

“The shots weren’t falling,” Kiesel said. “We got the looks that we wanted, and coach drew up some really good plays. They were going to fall eventually.”

The key to Pitt limiting Boston College’s offense in the final minutes of the game came from a lineup switch which took Stasha Carey out and moved Wignot and Yacine Diop into the lineup.

“The difference was when we went smaller, with Yacine at the four, Monica at the five,” McConnell-Serio said. “We had to pick up our defense because we got down. Full court pressure, we disrupted them, we were getting stops and scores.”

The coach added that Diop was a key contributor for the Panthers. The freshman forward collected her fourth career double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds, five of which came on the offensive boards.

“Yacine was a difference maker. She came to play from the beginning and was giving us second and third chances,” McConnell-Serio said.

Pitt will take the court again on Thursday when it faces off against No. 15 Duke on the road. In its last game, Boston College defeated Duke 60-56, largely because it made 13 3-pointers. For Pitt to succeed against Duke or any team, its success largely boils down to Kiesel.

“We go with her. We’ve seen that,” McConnell-Serio said.

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