Panthers lose second straight, another to injury

Junior guard Brianna Kiesel played the full 40 minutes on Sunday afternoon, which was perhaps a small victory for the Pitt women’s basketball team, who dropped yet another ACC contest.

Kiesel sustained a left knee sprain in the second half of Pitt’s previous game against No. 2 Notre Dame, and the injury clearly affected her performance against Syracuse on Sunday.

She converted just three of her 16 shot attempts as the Panthers fell to the Orange, 58-47, at the Petersen Events Center.

“We couldn’t practice her the last two days, and weren’t sure if we were going to have her today,” head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio said. “Then the kid plays 40 minutes on one-and-a-half legs and gives us everything she has.”

Even though Kiesel was able to play a full game, the news on the injury front got even worse for Pitt throughout the course of the game.

Senior guard Marquel Davis left the game in the second half after colliding with two Orange players in an attempt to grab a rebound.

“We lose Marquel, who is a primary ball handler and can penetrate,” McConnell-Serio said. “She got hit in the chest and was struggling to breathe. Obviously, [I] did not want to take a chance and put her out on the floor.”

Redshirt senior Ashlee Anderson also left the game for a period of time after jamming her shooting wrist and thumb. She returned to the game minutes later with a large amount of tape on the wrist.

The game started off well for the Panthers (9-10, 1-4 ACC), as both Kiesel and Anderson hit 3-point shots that gave Pitt an early 11-5 advantage.

The Orange (13-5, 2-3 ACC) responded out of the first media timeout, reeling off 17 unanswered points and grabbing a lead that they would hold on to for the rest of the game.

An Anderson jump shot at the 6:25 mark of the first half ended the Syracuse run and marked the first basket Pitt had scored in almost 10 minutes.

The Panthers’ shooting troubles complicated any comeback efforts, as Pitt followed up a first half in which it made just four field goals with a 28.6 percent mark from the field in the second half.

Twice Pitt got within three points of tying Syracuse in the final 20 minutes — first after a 9-0 run coming out of halftime that made it 30-27 and again later to bring the score to 46-43 — but 16 turnovers coupled with being outrebounded 47-39 halted that momentum.

“Those are situations that you would love to have back, but you have to find ways to win down the stretch,” McConnell-Serio said. “We are starting to compete, but we are just not finding ways to get over the hump down the stretch.”

Syracuse had four players in double figures, including sophomore combo guards Brittney Sykes and Brianna Butler, who recorded 15 and 14 points, respectively.

Pitt has a full week off before the Panthers travel to Durham, N.C., to play No. 3 Duke on Sunday, Jan. 26, at 2 p.m.