Women’s Basketball: Recent History against Loyola on Panthers’ side


For any team in any sport, beating an opponent three years in a row is difficult. For the Pitt women’s basketball team, that task is even more grueling, especially when you consider that the Panthers have failed to win more than 13 games in any one of their previous three seasons.

But in the case of the Loyola Greyhounds, Pitt has dominated for three consecutive years.

Coming off its second loss in a row, Pitt travels to Loyola (Md.) Saturday for a nonconference battle with the Greyhounds. Tipoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Reitz Arena.

Loyola (1-3), a member of the Patriot League, won its first game of the season Wednesday night against Howard after dropping the first three regular-season contests to Maryland, Hartford and East Carolina.

Pitt (2-2) enters the game after losing its previous two games by a combined eight points, a testament to the better brand of basketball the Panthers are already playing this season under head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio.

The Panthers backcourt is tasked with containing Nai Brown and Kara Marshall, Loyola’s pair of versatile junior guards. Both scored 14 points in Loyola’s lone victory against Howard.

Junior point guard Brianna Kiesel and redshirt sophomore guard Loliya Briggs lead a host of backcourt players for Pitt that was pegged with shadowing the Loyola guards.

Redshirt freshman center Marvadene “Bubbles” Anderson will be utilized by McConnell-Serio in hopes of creating a key mismatch against the Greyhounds, whose tallest player is 9 inches shorter than the 6-foot-11 Anderson.

“When you have Bubbles in the game, they pay so much attention to her that it opens up your outside game, which was the case [Wednesday] for us offensively,” McConnell-Serio said.

The outside-shooting prowess of the Panthers is something they hope to carry over from their loss to Michigan Saturday. Pitt sank 11 of 25 attempts from beyond the arc, one off the mark from setting a new program record.

Following the trip the Baltimore — Pitt’s third road game in its past four contests — the Panthers return home for a three-game set. Mount St. Mary’s (on Nov. 26), Buffalo (Dec. 1) and James Madison (Dec. 4) will all visit the Petersen Events Center in the next two weeks.

McConnell-Serio said the Panthers are continuing to work in practice on focusing on execution and creating plays on both sides of the ball, something they will have to do to stretch the winning streak against Loyola to four consecutive years.

“We are a work in progress and we will get better,” McConnell-Serio said Wednesday night. “We talked the last two days about working efficiently on offense, and I am proud of how that transferred over in the [Michigan] game. Our margin for error is so small, the missed opportunities get magnified. We have to find ways to get over the hump and be more successful down the stretch, and I know we will.”