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Walters lights up Red Flash in 74-59 road win against St. Francis - The Pitt News

The Pitt News

Walters lights up Red Flash in 74-59 road win against St. Francis

Freshman+Kalista+Walters+scored+a+game-high+26+points%0AJeff+Ahearn+%7C+Assistant+Visual+Editor
Freshman Kalista Walters scored a game-high 26 points
Jeff Ahearn | Assistant Visual Editor

Freshman Kalista Walters scored a game-high 26 points Jeff Ahearn | Assistant Visual Editor

Freshman Kalista Walters scored a game-high 26 points Jeff Ahearn | Assistant Visual Editor

By Dan Sostek / Sports Editor

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Against the St. Francis Red Flash, it was Kalista Walters who shined brightest.

The Pitt women’s basketball team never trailed Monday evening, defeating St. Francis 74-59 in Loretto, Pennsylvania, to move to 2-0 on the season. Walters, a freshman, led the Panthers with a game-high 26 points.

“Walters came to play tonight,” Pitt head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio said. “She was a monster inside.”

Walters was scorching from the start, as she scored Pitt’s first five points and nine of the Panthers’ first 15 in the first quarter en route to Pitt taking an early nine-point lead.

With the score 15-6, St. Francis junior Katie Reese narrowed the deficit a bit by swooping under and converting a layup while Pitt junior Destinie Gibbs committed a foul. Reese would miss the free throw, limiting the momentum shift.

Pitt held a 19-10 lead after the first quarter, bolstered by the hot starts of freshmen Walters and Brenna Wise, who tallied six points. Pitt struggled from beyond the arc, missing all five of its 3-point attempts.

St. Francis scored the first four points of the second quarter, but Pitt regained some stability thanks to Wise, who was able to reacquire possession after the Panthers turned the ball over, then dished it out to Walters for an easy layup.

St. Francis would answer with a bucket and then two free throws by senior Brielle Ward, cutting the Pitt lead to 21-18.

But Pitt wasn’t flustered, as it would score 12 unanswered and finish the half on a 14-2 run, heading into intermission with a 35-20 lead.

That advantage was thanks, in large part, to the play of the freshmen pair of Walters and Wise. The former scored 17 first-half points on a perfect 8-for-8 shooting performance and added five rebounds, while Wise totaled six points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals.

The Panthers’ defense was suffocating in the first half as well, limiting the Red Flash to 15.6 percent from the field on 5-for-32 shooting. Ten of St. Francis’ 20 points came via the free-throw line.

McConnell-Serio was pleased with her team’s defensive performance overall.

“I thought there were times we defended really, really well,” McConnell-Serio said. “And then other times, teams are going to score.”

It was able to maintain their torrid pace from the end of the second quarter, as Pitt jumped out to an early 9-2 run, with five more points from Walters energizing the outburst. After a short Red Flash run, Gibbs ended the third quarter with a spinning layup in traffic, giving the Panthers a 57-36 lead heading into the final frame.

St. Francis clawed its way back into the game, diminishing the Panther lead to 59-43 in the fourth quarter. But Pitt junior Stasha Carey responded to the Red Flash comeback with an and-one layup.

Pitt had to weather one final St. Francis comeback attempt, as the Red Flash stormed back late in the game, cutting the Pitt lead to 13 with more than two minutes remaining in the game thanks to a 3-pointer from Aisha Brock.

Junior Fred Potvin answered that jab as well, converting on two free throws, a jumper and a 3-pointer to provide the final padding to Pitt’s lead.

Walters finished with 26 points on 12-for-14 shooting, while tallying eight rebounds, two blocks and a steal.

“We just continued to get the ball inside to her as much as we could because of how effective she was,” McConnell-Serio said.

Wise finished with eight points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals.

The Panthers return to the Petersen Events Center Friday, taking on Delaware State. Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m.

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Walters lights up Red Flash in 74-59 road win against St. Francis