Pitt Panthers Women’s Basketball Gets Big win


Nov 20, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio gestures from the sidelines against the Michigan Wolverines during the first half at the Petersen Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH – The Pitt Panthers women’s basketball team made a school record 13 3-pointers en route to convincing 85-64 victory over the University of Michigan on Thursday evening at the Petersen Events Center.

Senior guard Brianna Kiesel and sophomore guard Fred Potvin combined to make 11 of the 13 three pointers. Kiesel was a career-best 6-of-9 from long range and finished the game with a season-high 27 points. Potvin was 5-of-7 from behind the arc and had 15 points. The Panther (2-1 overall) were 13-of-26 from downtown for the game, while Michigan (2-1 overall) was 6-of-17 from distance.

Joining Kiesel and Potvin in double figures were freshmen Stasha Carey and Aysia Bugg who had 14 and 12 points, respectively. Carey, who entered tonight’s game ranking third in the ACC in rebounding, pulled down a team-high nine boards. Senior Monica Wignot once again filled the box score with nine points, three rebounds, a team-high eight assists, three blocks and three steals.

The Panther shot 51.7 percent for the game (30-of-58) and assisted on 25 of their 30 made field goals. Pitt also forced 20 Michigan turnovers and cashed that in to 31 points. The Panthers led the Wolverines from wire-to-wire.

“Where do I begin? This was a great win for our team. I thought we got off to a great start, offensively and defensively,” head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio said. “I thought Brianna Kiesel set the tone for us and she made the game easy for everyone else tonight. Being able to knock down shots, finding a rhythm, being a playmaker, she was just so impressive tonight. Her teammates fed off of that.”

Pitt came out of the gates on fire, making five of its first seven shots, including three from behind the arc as the Panthers raced out to a 15-7 lead at the first media timeout of the game.

Pitt continued to keep the Wolverines at a distance throughout the beginning of the game, and Kiesel’s steal and layup at the 11:54 mark of the half doubled up Michigan for a 22-11 lead.

Michigan cut Pitt’s lead to 28-20 after a driving layup from Cyesha Gore, but a pretty spin move and layup from Carey, followed by a triple from Potvin pushed the Pitt lead back to 13 at 33-20 with 4:38 left.

Pitt would take a 43-28 lead into halftime after shooting a season-best 55 percent from the floor in the half (17-of-31), including 7-of-14 from long range. Carey was a perfect 5-of-5 from the in the half with 12 points and five rebounds, while Kiesel added 11 first half points.

Michigan started the second half on a 9-0 run to get within six at 43-37, but Chelsea Welch broke the scoreless streak with a runner in the lane, followed by a layup and free throw from Kiesel which pushed the Pitt lead back to double figures at 48-37 five minutes into the second half.

That 5-0 spurt by the Panthers would ultimately turn into a 15-2 run as Pitt took a commanding 58-39 lead with 11:51 remaining in the game. Kiesel sparked the run with nine of the 15 points during that stretch.

From that point, the Wolverines would only be able to get within 11 (64-53), but back-to-back triples from Potvin and Kiesel pushed the lead back to 17 with 5:01 remaining essentially put the game out of reach.

Michigan was led by Shannon Smith who had a team-high 17 points and Cyesha Goree who had 10 points and a game-high 16 rebounds.

The Panthers play their first road game of the season this Sunday afternoon when they travel to take on the nationally ranked James Madison Dukes. JMU, who finished last year at 29-6 overall, is ranked #23 this week in the USA Today Coaches Poll. Tipoff in Harrisonburg, Va. is set for 2 p.m.

Notes: Aysia Bugg is now a perfect 9-for-9 at the free throw line this season…Pitt was out-rebounded for the first time this season, losing the battle on the glass to Michigan 45-29…The Pitt bench outscored Michigan’s 19-14…That was Pitt’s first non-conference win over a “Power 5” school since it defeated Michigan State on Dec. 21, 2011.

My take: This is an enormous win for Pitt against a game Michigan opponent which returned four of five starters from last year’s WNIT team. Panthers coach Suzie McConnell-Serio expressed disappointment in her team last week, but can not say the same after this victory. People who did not believe in the Panthers now need to notice that this team is playing good basketball and is no longer the pushover it once was.