Panthers utilize early run to blow out Tar Heels on road

By Logan Hitchcock / Staff Writer

Not much has gone right for the Pitt women’s basketball team this season, but everything went right against North Carolina Thursday night.

Pitt (12-14, 4-9 ACC) trampled the North Carolina Tar Heels (14-14, 4-9 ACC) in a decisive 76-60 victory in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Thursday. The Panthers have earned all four of their conference victories in their last four road conference games.

The opening minutes of play featured sloppy basketball from both teams. After a pair of empty possessions for both teams, Pitt jumped on the board first when Aysia Bugg connected on a three-point jumper nearly two minutes into the game.

A minute later, North Carolina added a three of its own and momentarily took the lead after a pair of free throws by Jamie Cherry.

That brief lead would be the only positive for the Tar Heels for the rest of the game. The Panthers used a stifling defense to hold North Carolina to just 2-12 shooting in the first quarter, forcing seven turnovers which resulted in nine Pitt points.

The Panthers defense held North Carolina scoreless over the final 5:21 of the quarter, and used a 12-0 run to open up a 20-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Panthers’ ruthless defensive effort carried over into the second quarter, holding North Carolina scoreless for the quarter’s first 4:51, before Erika Johnson added a free throw, ending the scoring drought at 10:12, more than an entire quarter of play.

The tough defensive effort led to a successful and efficient offensive run for the Panthers, who took advantage of North Carolina turnovers and offensive rebounds to add easy baskets at the rim.

Leading by 12 before the start of the quarter, the Panthers leaned on Brenna Wise and Stasha Carey in the second quarter, outscoring the Tar Heels 25-8 and stretching their lead to 29 points going into the halftime break.

In the second half, the Tar Heels were the first on the board, adding a layup on their opening possession before connecting on their next two jump shots of the half. Looking to fight off any Tar Heel momentum, Pitt answered with a Fred Potvin three-pointer and a Wise jumper to get the lead back to 28 points.

After trading baskets back and forth, the Panthers again pushed the lead to 28 points when sophomore Yacine Diop added a layup with 5:10 remaining in the third quarter. Unfortunately for Pitt, the Diop field goal marked its last points of the quarter.

North Carolina held the Panthers scoreless over the final five minutes of the quarter and was able to add six more points of its own, cutting the Panther lead to 22 points heading into the final quarter.

Despite being held scoreless for more than five minutes at the end of the third quarter, the Panthers were able to add to their lead from the free throw line in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. The teams traded baskets in the final ten minutes of play but Pitt never let North Carolina get any closer than 16 points in the final frame, ending the game 76-60.

Bugg, Carey and Wise paced the Panthers, as they all recorded double-doubles. Bugg led the team with 15 points, finishing her double-double with ten assists. Carey added 14 points and 15 rebounds, while Wise finished with ten points and 13 rebounds.

Pitt will play next on Sunday when they host No. 23 Syracuse (20-6, 10-3 ACC) at 3p.m. for their ninth annual Pink the Pete game supporting breast cancer awareness.

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