The outcome of the game was essentially decided in the first 16 seconds of the game. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are ranked second in the AP Poll and third in the ESPN/USA Today Poll and played like it en route to a 73-47 win.
Upon winning the tip, Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins scored a lay-up and was then fouled. She would make the free throw and then on an inbounds pass the Fighting Irish would strike again and convert the lay-up. Another steal came up empty, but the Pittsburgh Panthers women’s basketball team would need to rethink their strategy and called a timeout to regroup.
The Panthers did rebound very nicely. Slowly but surely they got back into the game by controlling pace. It would be some important shots from Brianna Kiesel and Loliya Briggs that got them there, but what happened next was unexpected to many.
Down one, Marquel Davis had a fastbreak opportunity and converted giving the Panthers a 23-22 lead. The lead was extended to 25-22 at the 7:32 mark of the first half. Things stayed close tied up at 29 with 2:49 remaining in the first.
The Irish would take a 35-29 lead into the half as the Panthers could not capitalize and Diggins scored 13 points despite playing with two fouls.
The Irish won the battle for points in the paint 18-12 and second chance points 4-4. Kiesel led the Panthers with nine points.
In the second half, Notre Dame was able to pull away as the young Panthers could not execute. The Panthers were sloppy and frustration was evident when Berenato was called for a technical foul.
Up next for the Panthers is a game Saturday at Georgetown with a 4 p.m. tip off. They next home game is Sunday Feb. 3 against USF.
Of note: Pitt’s leading scorer and rebounder Asia Logan did not play in tonight’s game and had a cast on her right arm. It is unknown when or if she will return this season.