Asia Logan came up big all day and with 0.3 seconds left she delivered once again making the winning free throw to give the Pittsburgh Panthers a 76-74 victory over William & Mary and end their 17 game losing streak.
Logan had 36 points to go with 14 rebounds to lead the Panthers in both categories. Emily Correal led the way for William & Mary with her 27 points and 10 rebounds.
“I’m very proud of my team because every win is hard to get,” Head Coach Agnus Berenato said. “The difference between us and William & Mary is simply one rebound, it’s one turnover, it’s one basket. That’s how close this game was.”
William & Mary relied on heavy ball movement shifting the Panthers defense from their left to right and throwing them off. Senior forward Correal played tough and made her first three baskets while fouled setting the tone for the Tribe.
It took a while for the Panthers to get going and they were led by Logan who was assertive on the boards and showed her range en route to 18 first half points.
The Panthers called a timeout that brought them back into the game. The pace of the offense was quicker and more in sync and Ashlee Anderson was the beneficiary scoring two baskets. The Panthers took the lead and it forced a William & Mary timeout.
“I just felt like we needed to get a score and the baseline was open and they were giving me the baseline so I just took it in,” Anderson said. “Asia’s play in the middle opened it up.”
At the half the Panthers trailed 43-40 as Correal got hot once again and scored 23 points in the half.
The Panthers as a team had their ups and downs in the half. Rebounding as previously mentioned was a huge advantage as they outrebounded William & Mary 31-15 and 20-4 on the offensive side. They were 10-11 from the free throw line. They attempted 11 threes and were unable to make one. They also attempted 46 shots and made just 15.
In the second half, Asia Logan found herself in foul trouble and the scoring pace went down.
The Panthers had a chance to get a lead following an exceptional pass from Brianna Kiesel, however the layup was missed. This got the bench buzzing and it appeared that the game was over.
Still the Panthers defense made huge stands late and when the team needed a three Kiesel was there to tie the game and change the momentum.
It was Kiesel, who Berenato has referred to as her ‘coach on the court’ that earlier in the half got the team to focus on the task at hand, winning the game.
“At the 6:25 mark, she [Kiesel] got everyone together and for the first time since Shavonte Zellous has been here, she told the team that we’re not going to lose this,” Berenato said. “She stood up and looked at every one of them and said ‘this is what we’re going to do’, and that’s a sign of maturity.”
Another key was the solid defense from freshman Krista Pettepier who was able to contain Correal and limit her to four points in the second half.
The score remained tied in the final minute. With 42.7 seconds left in regulation, Loliya Briggs was able to gain possession of a loose ball and a timeout was called by the Panthers. Berenato also saw this as ‘huge’ citing her as a ‘winner who will always go down fighting’.
Logan nailed two free throws and then William & Mary player Taylor Hilton tied the game with eight seconds left. It came down to the final seconds and Kiesel missed a jumper. Logan came away with the rebound and was fouled.
“I love how everyone came to me and was telling me that I was going to make the shot,” Logan said. “Abby [Dowd], she gave me a hug and said ‘you got this’. Everyone had confidence in me and I really appreciated that.”
Upon drilling the free throws, the outcome of the game was decided as it was not possible for the Tribe to make a shot with 0.3 seconds remaining.
“This might be the best win in 2012 so far,” Anderson said, realizing this is their lone with this year. “We’ve just got to keep running with this. We’ve been working really hard in practice and they are finally starting to pay off.”
The Panthers had numerous advantages in the physical statistics making 18 of 19 free throws but also grabbing more offensive rebounds 28-7 and scoring more second chance points 32-4.
“I think that was huge,” Berenato said. “We have to get more from those 28 rebounds, we have to get scores but for us, that’s a real plus. You have to start somewhere, you have to crawl before you walk and walk before you run, so for us to be able to crash the boards like that it was really amazing.”
The Panthers are now 1-1 on the season and will next face Siena Tuesday at the Fitzgerald Field House. Tipoff is scheduled for 1 PM.
Berenato on a three pointer made by 6-3 Tribe center Jaclyn McKenna that gave W&M a 68-63 lead and resulted in the former smacking her hand against the scorer’s table in disgust: “When McKenna nailed that three, I thought I was going to die, because that’s when you know they’re on a roll. Are you kidding me? I almost broke a blood vessel.”
The following achievements were reached in today’s victory:
Asia Logan’s 36 points are the most points since Dec 21, 2008 [42 pts from Shavonte Zellous]
Logan’s 36 points are Petersen Events Center record for a Pitt player. Previous was 34 from Zellous vs WVU 1/4/09
First time scoring 70 points since Dec 31, 2011
First time scoring 70 or more points in regulation since 11/20/2011