Pitt Drops Final Big East Game as Women Suffer Early Exit in Conference Tourney
First Round: No. 10 seed Marquette 66, No. 15 seed Pitt 43
By: Dave Uhrmacher
The Big East Conference era is over for the Pitt women’s basketball team. After suffering a 66-43 loss to the Marquette Golden Eagles (16-14) on Friday evening in the first round of the Big East Women’s Basketball Championship, the Panthers season has concluded. Pitt (9-21) was outplayed in all facets of the game, most notably being outscored in the paint 40-22 and outrebounded 48-36. The Panthers failed to capitalize on first half opportunities to keep the game tight, allowing Marquette to consistently score easy buckets right around the rim, a common problem for this Pitt team all season.
While head coach Agnus Berenato was frustrated with her team’s overall performance, she applauded the effort of the Golden Eagles on the boards. “They did an awesome job on the boards,” she said. “Their board play allowed them to open up everything especially with their transition offense.” Out of the halftime break, the Panthers only faced a 12-point deficit. But as the minutes ticked down, the Marquette lead grew bigger and bigger. On a night when almost every single Panther struggled mightily from the field, sophomore guard Brianna Kiesel led the way in scoring for Pitt with 13. Cora McManus — who shot a perfect five-for-five from the field for 11 points total — joined Kiesel as the only Pitt players in double figures.
Kiesel discussed her experience in the Big East after the game as a rewarding one. “There have been a lot of good players that I have seen in the Big East,” she said. “Just getting a chance to play against the best players and all the things that they bring to the table, I have learned a lot. Although we did not do as well as we would have liked to over the last two years, we grew.”
Coach Agnus Berenato also lamented on everything the Big East has meant to the Pitt program over the years. “It is a disappointing loss, and the saying goes that all things come to an end,” said Berenato. “And it is a tough way to end our existence in the Big East. It has been great to me and the University of Pittsburgh as a whole; it is without a doubt that this conference has been the best women’s basketball conference in the country the last few years.”
Though the present may seem bleak, the outlook for the future shines much brighter with only one Panther leaving the team after this season and the insertion of 6’11” center Marvadene “Bubbles” Anderson into the lineup. “I am looking forward to next year,” said Kiesel. “After two years in the Big East, I will have two years in the ACC to see what that will be like.”