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North Carolina State trumps Pitt in triple OT thriller

Stasha Carey goes for a layup in Sunday's loss to NC State.  Wenhao Wu | Senior Staff Photographer

Stasha Carey goes for a layup in Sunday's loss to NC State. Wenhao Wu | Senior Staff Photographer

Victor Wu

Victor Wu

Stasha Carey goes for a layup in Sunday's loss to NC State. Wenhao Wu | Senior Staff Photographer

By Logan Hitchcock / Staff Writer

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Despite battling back in regulation and forcing three overtime periods, the Pitt women’s basketball team couldn’t end its losing skid against the North Carolina State Wolfpack Sunday.

In front of an energetic Petersen Events Center crowd on Family and Friends Day, Pitt (8-8, 0-3 ACC) fought hard until the final buzzer rang, but fell by a score of 78-76.

After jumping out to a first quarter lead, the Panthers spent most of the second and third quarters trying to shrink the deficit and climb back in the game. Pitt entered the fourth quarter trailing the Wolfpack (12-5, 3-1 ACC) by eight points until Yacine Diop’s jumper cut the NC State lead to only three points with 4:47 remaining.

Down one with just under two minutes remaining, Pitt had two chances to take the lead but walked away empty on both possessions and was forced to foul with 11 seconds remaining.

Wolfpack guard Miah Spencer made the first free throw, but missed the backend and a Pitt rebound gave the Panthers a chance to win or tie with nine seconds left.

On the final possession, the ball ended up in the hands of Fred Potvin, who connected on three shots from beyond the arc earlier in the game. With seconds left, Potvin attempted a long two-point jumper that fell short. An offensive rebound and a quick shot attempt by sophomore Stasha Carey resulted in a foul as time expired.

After a brief delay to review the play, the officials put two-tenths of a second on the clock and sent Carey to the line to shoot two free throws. Trailing by two, Carey needed to sink both free throws in order to send the game into overtime.

“I wasn’t really nervous,” Carey said. “But it got really quiet, so it was kind of a scary moment. I just told myself not to miss.”

She didn’t. Hands obeying her head, Carey sunk both free throws, tying the game at 55 and forcing the first of three overtimes.

Despite owning the momentum, Pitt got off to a slow start in the first overtime period. After winning the tip, Spencer added a quick bucket for the Wolfpack and on the ensuing possession stole an Aysia Bugg pass for another layup, giving NC State a 59-55 lead.

Pitt regained momentum with a 3-point basket from Bugg and a layup from Diop to give the team its first lead since early in the second quarter, 60-59. After trading free throws over the next three minutes, Pitt had the ball with the shot clock turned off, the scored tied at 62 and 27 seconds remaining.

The Panthers missed their first chance at victory as a Diop jumper at the buzzer fell short, signaling the second overtime period.

Forced to play without starters Bugg and Carey, who fouled out in the first overtime, Pitt struggled to get anything going offensively in the second overtime.

“When you have two experienced players foul out, it really changes the complexion of our team,” said coach Suzie McConnell-Serio.

Without Bugg and Carey, Pitt looked to Diop and freshmen Brenna Wise and Kalista Walters to shoulder the offensive load. After taking a brief lead on a pair of Diop free throws, the Panthers went more than three minutes without scoring, falling by two points with 33.8 seconds remaining.

“From a leadership standpoint, someone needed to step up with two leaders off the floor,” said Wise, who finished with 14 points and 16 rebounds.

Down two, Pitt missed a pair of shots before Wise corralled an offensive rebound and put the ball back up and in to tie the game. With a chance at the win, an NC State jumper fell short as time expired and the game headed to a third overtime tied, 66-66.

In the third overtime, Pitt failed to make up for its offensive struggles. With 1:21 remaining, Pitt had a two-point lead after a pair of Diop free throws, but NC State junior guard Dominique Wilson hit a 3-pointer to give the Wolfpack the lead for good. Pitt added a few more baskets to keep the score close, but couldn’t overcome the three by Wilson, falling 78-76.

The loss extends Pitt’s losing streak to four games and keeps the team winless in conference play.

“Every night is going to be a battle,” Wise said. “Losing gives us an opportunity to learn. We’re going to grow from this.”

The Panthers will take the court next Thursday when they travel to the Carrier Dome to take on Syracuse (12-4, 2-1 ACC) at 7 p.m.

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North Carolina State trumps Pitt in triple OT thriller