Pitt Women’s Basketball: Panthers Obtain First Win Against Niagara


Jan 19, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers guard Brianna Kiesel (3) talks to head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio (right) against the Syracuse Orange during the first half at the Petersen Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Freshman forward Stasha Carey had 17 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Pitt Panthers women’s basketball team (1-0) past Niagara University (0-2) on Monday evening at the Petersen Events Center, 70-54.

Carey led three Pitt players in double figures, followed by senior Monica Wignot with 12 points and freshman Aysia Bugg with 11. Eight of the nine Pitt players found the scoring column and all nine contributed at least one rebound. Carey also added four blocks, three assists and two steals to her stat line.

“Tonight was a great win. We had great performances from a number of players, in particular Stasha Carey who was a monster on the boards,” head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio said. “She kept the ball alive with eight offensive rebounds and made it look effortless. She was impressive scoring the basketball and she looked very strong. We talk about our three freshmen gaining experience and with every game they will continue to get better and better.”

Carey helped the Panthers control the glass as Pitt out-rebounded Niagara 54-45. Pitt turned 19 Niagara turnovers into 20 points, and the Pitt bench outscored the Purple Eagles, 24-15.

Niagara raced out to a 6-0 lead, but back-to-back triples from Carey evened the game at six heading into the first media timeout.

The two teams would trade baskets until Pitt went on an 8-2 run, capped off by a slashing layup from Carey which increased Pitt’s lead to 27-18 with 7:54 remaining in the half.

Out of the under eight media timeout however, Niagara’s Val McQuade hit her third and fourth 3-pointers of the half to get the Purple Eagles back within three at 27-24. McQuade finished the first half a perfect 5-of-5 from the floor and had 14 points at the break.

The Panthers though, closed the half on an 11-1 run to seize a 38-25 lead at the break. With Pitt up eight, Aysia Bugg scored the final five points of the half on a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws to give Pitt a 13 point halftime advantage.

Carey led the way with 12 points and nine rebounds, while Chelsea Welch came off the bench to contribute nine points and six rebounds in the opening 20 minutes.

Pitt would score six of the first eight points of the second half, and continued to stretch its lead, gaining a 16 point advantage (49-33) after Fred Potvin connected from long range at the 11:58 mark.

Niagara was ice cold from the floor to begin the second half and made just four of its first 23 shots to open the half. Pitt’s largest lead would reach 28 points on a pair of free throws from Wignot with 4:45 left in the game.

The Panthers were a solid 17-for-23 from the free throw line, while Niagara was just 5-for-12.

The Panthers conclude their three game home stand on Thursday evening against Michigan in a rematch from last year’s contest which saw the Wolverines edge the Panthers 82-75 in Ann Arbor. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

My take: Pitt should feel good about this win as it prepares for Michigan. The frustration coach Suzie McConnell-Serio had from a season opening loss to Princeton definitely has to now be a short feeling of satisfaction. Due to injuries, the Panthers depth is more limited as Marvadene “Bubbles” Anderson is out for the season re-tore her ankle in the summer and Brittany Gordon is out for a while after requiring should surgery.

As a result at media day, McConnell said that the freshmen would be thrown into the fire and both Stasha Carey and Yacine Diop are in the starting lineup while Aysia Bugg had the most minutes coming off of the bench. The three combined for 37 point and 23 rebounds. Michigan will be a big test, but will give the team a simulation of conference play. Michigan made the WNIT last season losing in the third round. The Wolverines are 2-0 to start the season.