Pitt “falls apart down the stretch,” loses a “heartbreaker” 68-60
By: Andrew Stern
With 6:49 remaining in the game, Pitt and Syracuse were tied at 54.
From that point on Syracuse went on a 14-6 run propelling the 23rd ranked Orange (14-5, 4-2) over Suzie McConnell-Serio and the Pittsburgh Panthers (12-6, 2-3 ACC).
Brianna Day scored 11 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and blocked four shots, while Alexis Peterson and Brianna Butler added 14 points each.
“This was a heartbreaker, just because we had some so close and continued to fight back, and hit shots and makes plays. The last few minutes it just fell apart. We had two bad turnovers; we didn’t defend the way we needed to defend, and had been to that point. For the most part, we had been keeping Alexis Peterson in check, and she hit some big shots down the stretch, and we didn’t respond” Coach Suzie McConnell-Serio said.
After a seesaw first half that saw the Panthers face deficits of up to seven points, Pitt was down 30-26.
In the first half of Thursday’s contest, Brianna Kiesel scored nine of her 14 points. while Syracuse was paced by Brianna Butler (8 points), and Cornelia Fondren (7 points).
In the opening minutes of the second half, Pitt went on an 8-0, eliminating the largest Syracuse lead of the second half.
Just three and a half minutes later, Pitt enjoyed their largest lead of the game- just two points.
Over the next minute Pitt and Syracuse continued to battle, before Syracuse went on a little 6-0 run.
Following the Syracuse run, Pitt answered with a 6-0 run of their own, behind a pair of three pointers from Monica Wignot.
The burst tied the game at 52.
Two minutes later Syracuse led 62-56 behind a pair of three pointers from Brianna Butler and Alexis Peterson.
The deficit would to be insurmountable, as the Panthers were unable to whittle the lead lower than two points.
The key possession of the game came with just over two minutes to play and the Panthers trailing by four.
During this possession Pitt grabbed four offensive rebounds, and went to the line for two free throws. Despite possessing the ball for a minute and a half, Pitt failed to score a single point.
The stretch demoralized the young Panthers, who gave up a pair of offensive rebounds off missed free throws down the stretch.
“Once they got a four point lead, we just couldn’t close the gap, so to me this is very disappointing” McConnell-Serio said. “We had a good look at a three, and we just couldn’t close it out” the coach said.
The Panthers struggled at the line all evening missing six of their 12 attempts, and freshman Stasha Carey shot just 3-8 from the line
Pitt will next play Boston College, who upset 15th ranked Duke this evening, on Saturday afternoon.
Tip off is slated for 4 PM, and can be heard LIVE on WPTS Radio.