The Pitt Panthers women’s basketball team had a tough time at the free throw line going 8-20 and thus extend their conference losing streak in a loss to the University of South Florida [USF] Bulls 78-60.
The 40% success rate came while USF shot 75% on 28 attempts.
“I’m having a tough time at the free throw line right now,” sophomore guard Brianna Kiesel said. “Since conference play has started I’ve been shooting at a low percentage, but I just need to start taking my time at the line. Missing free throws is contagious. When I started missing, Asia started missing, and Marquel started missing, so you can see it is really contagious just like missing shots. If someone’s making shots everyone is making shots, if someone is missing shots everyone is missing shots.”
Kiesel went 3-6 from the line while junior forward Asia Logan went 2-5, showing that as Kiesel said, misses were contagious.
“Missing free throws was kind of contagious,” Logan said. “It was one of those games where we just missed them. We just have to get better at that.”
The Panthers trailed for most of the first half, however a circus shot from Logan gave Pitt a brief 17-15 lead. The lead continued when after a USF basket, Kiesel made a three to keep the one point advantage.
Still the Bulls came to fight and Andrell Smith and Akila McDonald provided a good outside and inside balance respectively scoring 10 point apiece. A Smith three to give USF a 23-19 advantage seemed to get them going.
The Panthers tried to stay in it and Logan scored 12 points in the first half. Marquel Davis drew a foul despite making a basket but was unable to make the free throw putting the Panthers down 32-29 with 4:33 left in the first half.
In the remaining time though Pitt was outscored 11-4 trailing 43-33 at the half.
Something that did not go right in the first half for the Panthers was the free throw line – a place where the Panthers shot 2-9.
The opening three plus minutes of the half told the story for the Panthers. It appeared as though they had something going when Logan hit a two and Loliya Briggs connected on a three to cut the lead to 43-38 but then Andrell Smith made another three to put the lead back up to eight. The Panthers were unable to pick themselves back up and when the Bulls missed a shot, there was no one there but a USF player who grabbed the rebound and made an easy lay-up forcing another Panthers timeout.
Coming out of the timeout, the bewildered Panthers turned the ball over leading to another easy basket. The next Bulls possession was a three point play as Inga Orekhova made a two and was fouled.
When it looked as though Pitt would be left for dead, it was Kiesel who stepped up and had a three point play of her own. Then a midrange two and a lay-up brought the USF lead to just 53-47.
Orekhova would momentarily halt Kiesel’s run with a three, but the Pitt sophomore would respond with a two making her point total 14.
USF would not be denied however, and a big three from Andrea Smith made the Bulls lead 64-52 with 7:59 to play and left Pitt searching for answers once again.
“You work so hard to just keep cutting the lead,” Kiesel said. “There’s a time where we had four missed rebounds. We just couldn’t fight our way back.”
The Panthers used a timeout and came out quickly as Davis scored four points, but when USF called a timeout, it was Orekhova who sank a three with 5:50 to play that was a dagger to the Panthers hearts.
“I thought that we missed several open shots and three point shots, and I thought that we had some really good looks that we should have scored from,” Head Coach Agnus Berenato said. “I thought we did a phenomenal job in the first half on defending USF’s leading scorers: the Smith sisters and Inga. In the second half Andrea Smith really stepped up and she was the player that she needed to be by scoring 15 points in one half.
Pitt will next host Providence Wednesday with a tip off scheduled for 7 p.m.
Pitt: Brianna Kiesel, Marquel Davis, Loliya Briggs, Asia Logan and Cora McManus
USF: Andrea Smith, Inga Orekhova, Andrell Smith, Alisia Jenkins and Akila McDonald
Brittany Gordon, who had been in the starting line up was on crutches and thus unable to play in the game.
The Panthers shot 37.5% from the field while the Bulls were just 37.3%.
Free throws: USF- 21-28 [75%] Pitt 8-20 40%.