Syracuse stifles Pitt offense in conference loss


Kalista Walters scored thirteen points in Pitt's loss on Thursday against Syracuse. Valkyrie Speaker | Staff Photographer

By Chris Puzia / Assistant Sports Editor

The Pitt women’s basketball team traveled to Syracuse Thursday, hoping to take home its first conference win of the year, but more sloppy play extended that drought.

The Panthers (8-9, 0-4 ACC) fell below the .500 mark after dropping a 71-48 decision at Syracuse (13-4, 3-1 ACC) Thursday night behind 26 team turnovers.

Still, Pitt started the game off quickly, with a Fred Potvin 3-pointer opening up an 11-2 lead. From there, both teams traded baskets for the middle of the quarter, with center Brenna Wise making some quick layups and jumpers. But Syracuse ended the quarter on an 11-2 scoring run of its own to hold a 14-13 lead.

In the first half, Syracuse center Briana Day carried the Orange offense. She scored 13 of the team’s 36 first-half points and grabbed seven rebounds. Day posted the game’s only double-double with a team-high 15 points and 10 rebounds.

On the other end, Pitt had a more balanced attack but still leaned on freshman Kalista Walters, who had nine first-half points.

Both teams kept the score pretty close for most of the first half, but Syracuse used a 7-0 run to pull ahead shortly before halftime.

Syracuse’s full-court press stymied the Panthers, who had 11 turnovers in the game’s first 20 minutes, including five from sophomore Stasha Carey. Carey finished with no points and eight turnovers.

Pitt also struggled against Syracuse’s zone defense, which led the Panther guards to force contested 3-point attempts. As a result, Pitt shot only 31 percent from long range. To exploit the defense, the perimeter players tried to work the ball into the middle around the foul line, where Wise and Carey could attempt turnaround jumpers.

A late Aysia Bugg 3-pointer cut into the Orange lead, and Pitt trailed only 36-29 at halftime after a quick 5-1 run.

Wise led Pitt with 13 points and eight rebounds. She also made two 3-pointers for the team, the only Panther to do so.

But by the end of the third quarter, Syracuse had doubled that lead, with six players chipping in at least three points. Pitt continued to turn the ball over near half-court due to Syracuse’s swarming pressure and careless passes from Pitt’s guards to advance the ball.

That advantage remained in double digits for the remainder of the game, ballooning to 26 points in the fourth quarter.

In the game’s final period, Syracuse outscored Pitt 18-8. No Panther shot better than 50 percent from the field, and only two Pitt players did not turn the ball over in the game.

Part of Pitt’s trouble came in its inability to drive to the basket. The Panthers attempted 18 free throws all night, but only made nine — Syracuse took 25 shots from the charity stripe. The rebounding numbers were similar, but the steals disparity summarized the game: Syracuse recorded 20 takeaways to Pitt’s four.

Pitt has now lost five straight games dating back to Dec. 22. The team next returns to the Petersen Events Center to host No. 17 Florida State on Sunday at 2 p.m.

Leave a comment.