Women’s basketball loses ninth conference game at hands of No. 12 Louisville


John Hamilton | Staff Photographer

By Logan Hitchcock / Staff Writer

The Pitt women’s basketball team won a battle, but not the war.

Despite winning the first quarter, Pitt (10-14, 2-9 ACC) could not hold off the No. 12 Louisville Cardinals (19-6, 11-1 ACC), losing the final three quarters before falling 84-61 at the Petersen Events Center Thursday night. The loss is the Panthers’ second straight and increases the team’s home losing streak to seven games.

The Cardinals opened the scoring, taking advantage of second chance points and empty Pitt possessions to jump out to a 6-0 lead, forcing an early Panther timeout. After a pair of substitutions, sophomore forward Stasha Carey got Pitt on the board when she connected from beyond the arc.

Carey’s three was the beginning of an unusually efficient first quarter of offense for the Panthers, who began knocking down shots on every possession. After a pair of free throws by Brenna Wise, Pitt made its next six jump shots, springing to an 18-15 lead over the Cardinals.

Despite allowing six second chance points early, Pitt stayed on top of the Cardinals thanks to an active defense and a Brittany Gordon-led up-tempo offense.

In the first quarter alone, the Panthers forced seven turnovers, leading to nine of their 22 first quarter points.

Ending the first quarter with a one-point lead, the Panthers continued to frustrate Louisville’s offense in the opening minutes of the second quarter. Unfortunately for the Panthers, the offensive success they enjoyed in the game’s opening quarter disappeared in the second.

“We just need to be efficient,” said coach Suzie McConnell-Serio.

After holding the Cardinals off for the first four minutes of the quarter, the Panthers lost the lead when Louisville’s leading scorer, Myisha Hines-Allen, found her way to the basket for a layup.

Hines-Allen’s basket marked the beginning of a 17-5 Cardinal run that would span the final 5:39 of the second quarter. Pitt failed to stop the Cardinals from taking easy shots at the rim as Hines-Allen and Cortnee Walton helped to carve out a 40-29 lead heading into halftime.

The Panthers’ inability to string together consecutive quarters of strong play has plagued the team all season.

“Fatigue can’t become a factor,” Wise said. “We have to continue to play for all 40 minutes and keep the intensity.”

The second half didn’t start well for the Panthers, who yielded a pair of baskets in the half’s opening minutes, allowing Louisville to extend its lead to 15 points.

Hoping to locate a much-needed offense, Pitt leaned on Carey and Wise heavily in the third quarter. The duo’s baskets, as well as a pair of layins from Yacine Diop, cut the lead back to 10 points at the third quarter’s halfway mark.

With shots falling, the Panthers tried finding stops to cut into the lead by abandoning their man defense in favor of a 2-3 zone. Unfortunately, the change was unsuccessful as the Cardinals continued to get easy baskets in the paint and points on second-chance opportunities.

“Rebounding. We have to put an emphasis on rebounding offensively, as well as defensively,” guard Destinie Gibbs said.

Frontcourt defense and an inability to grab rebounds was a problem for the Panthers all night, as Louisville took advantage of offensive rebounds. Louisville outrebounded the Panthers 34-18, including 15 offensive rebounds as opposed to the Panthers’ five.

“We weren’t on our game tonight in that area,” Carey said. “As far as the frontline, we needed to be better.”

Despite the second chance points, the Panthers cut the Cardinal lead by two points in the third quarter and entered the game’s final quarter trailing by only nine.

The Panthers couldn’t bring out the necessary stops and scores in the fourth quarter. Gibbs cut the Louisville lead to seven points with a pair of free throws on the quarter’s opening possession, but Louisville’s offense was too much for Pitt to handle.

The Cardinals connected on their first five shots of the quarter, including a pair of 3-point jumpers from guard Mariya Moore, extending their lead to 17 points, all but burying the Panthers’ chances at a comeback.

Louisville finished the quarter outscoring Pitt 26-12 to earn a decisive victory.

Carey led the Panthers offensively and finished with a team-high 21 points, followed by Wise, who added 13 of her own.

Pitt will play next this Sunday when it travels to Blacksburg, Virginia, to take on the Virginia Tech Hokies (15-8, 3-7 ACC) at 2 p.m.

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