The Pitt Panthers made their 66-51 victory against the Bucknell Bison on Friday afternoon look elementary.
This win happened to come in front of 4,698 fans at the Peterson Events Center, the vast majority of which were students attending the fifth-annual Education Day.
Brianna Kiesel had her third career double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while teammates Asia Logan notched her ninth career double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Loliya Briggs added 15 points in the victory.
“It was a great way to start the season with a win,” first-year Pitt coach Suzie McConnell-Serio said. “I thought we did some good things throughout the game. Brianna Kiesel is the glue to this team right now, we’re always on the same page with what we’re running and where we need to be.”
The Panthers raced off to a quick 5-0 lead and led by 10 five minutes into the first half. Bucknell did make a run in the first half and it was due to a significant rebounding advantage. The Bison won the overall rebound battle 59-38 and had a 24-8 advantage with offensive rebounds.
“We just needed to box out,” Pitt’s Logan said. “We were relying on our athleticism and we can’t continue to do that.”
Pitt forced 13 first half turnovers and jumped to a 39-26 lead at the half.
In the second half it appeared as though Pitt would cruise, taking a 57-35 lead with 12:53 remaining in regulation.
Bucknell would outscore Pitt 16-9 the rest of the way, but that was not enough. The Bison’s Audrey Dotson led all scorers with 23 points and 14 rebounds.
A big reason for the victory was the lack of mistakes on Pitt’s end. The Panthers had three turnovers in the first half and 12 for the game. Last season Pitt’s assist-turnover ratio was not consistently up to par. Now with McConnell-Serio at the helm, she challenges her team to commit less than 15 turnovers per game.
“Coach always tells us that we need to take care of the ball, we want to get those extra possession,” Kiesel said. “I think that definitely carried over from practice into the game.”
The Panthers hope to improve to 2-0 Thursday night at Ball State.
Of note: Eight of the nine dressed Panthers scored. Marvadene “Bubbles” Anderson and Marquel Davis were unable to play in this contest…This was McConnell-Serio’s first victory at Pitt and the Panthers; first victory since Jan. 2.