Pitt Women’s Basketball: Panthers Match Biggest Win In Program History By Beating North Carolina


Nov 20, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Michigan Wolverines guard Katelynn Flaherty (3) and Pittsburgh Panthers guard Aysia Bugg (2) fight for a loose ball during the first half at the Petersen Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

You would have thought the Pitt Panthers women’s basketball team would have a very excited reaction after defeated eighth ranked North Carolina 84-59 Thursday evening, but that was not the case.

“As a coach you usually have expectations going into a season, but I think knowing the way the ACC is, you talk about closing the gap with the top teams that we got blown out against last year and competing against teams in the middle of the pack,” coach Suzie McConnell-Serio said. “We were picked last and we have no pressure and no expectations placed upon us except the ones we have in our locker room.”

Predicted to finish last in the ACC, the 11-4 Panthers in respective games nearly knocked off seventh ranked Louisville and then defeated eighth ranked North Carolina which matches the highest ranked win in program history which was an 86-57 win against Maryland on Dec. 8, 2007. This also is the Panthers’ first win over a ranked opponent since Feb. 5, 2011.

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Senior guard Brianna Kiesel led all scorers with 22 points while shooting 9-9 from the free throw line. Kiesel also had nine rebounds and five assists. Forward Monica Wignot (16 points and 12 rebounds) and forward Stasha Carey (17 points) also were key contributors in the win.

“What an unbelievable night,” said Suzie McConnell-Serio. “From start to finish, what our players have done and how they responded to a tough loss on Sunday to come back and face the No. 8 team in the country who we knew was so dangerous in so many ways. From the beginning we battled for 40 minutes and I couldn’t be more proud of the way we executed the game plan.”

North Carolina was led by guard Allisha Gray’s double-double of 19 points and 14 rebounds, while reigning ACC Player of the Week Stephanie Mavunga was held to 12 points.

UNC (14-2, 1-1 ACC), with a 5-2 lead and controlled the game for the first three minutes, but after that Pitt found its pace led by Kiesel and Wignot 17 of Pitt’s first 21 points.

Pitt led 25-17 when the Tar Heels went on a 9-2 run to cut the score to one. That was as close as they got for the rest of the half as the Panthers stretched the lead to 40-30 at halftime.

Panthers forward Yacine Diop gave her team a momentum boost to start the second half when she tipped in a Wignot miss and was fouled in the process. This allowed for Pitt to show that it would not back down from beging the aggressors.

As Pitt’s lead grew, so did its intensity on both sides of the ball. Kiesel had a sequence where she made a jumper and on the next Tar Heel possession intercepted the in-bounds pass, converted a lay-up, was fouled and made the free throw to give the Panthers a 61-37 lead with 13:41 to play.

UNC would make its run cutting the Pitt advantage to 65-54 with 7:00 to play in the half, however the Panthers were able to complete to game with Fred Potvin making a three point basket, that helped allow the home team to pull away and prevent Tar Heels coach Sylvia Hatchell from winning the 950th game of her career.

“I thought once we cut it to 11 we would make more of a run and pull this game out, but we got a couple fouls and things didn’t work our way,” Hatchell said. “Rebounding was really major and I’m really upset we didn’t rebound with them like we should have. Pitt did a great job and beat us good, so we need to learn from it and move on.”

Pitt will next take to the road Jan. 15 for a 7 pm ACC contest against Florida State.

My take: This is my third full season covering this team. I can honestly say I saw some of the worst of times, however it is those same times that have allowed this taste of success.

“What special about this team is that we prepare the same way for every team we play,” McConnell-Serio said. “They’re never too high and never too low. They’ve taken winning in stride. The reaction I saw was that they expected to win this game, that’s the way they responded at the end of the game.”

Even before this win, Pitt was projected to be a nine seed in the NCAA Tournament. This has to feel good for Brianna Kiesel especially considering McConnell-Serio said she was going to make this a great senior year for her. The only blemish thus far was a City Game loss to Duquesne. I would not consider the Louisville loss a blemish because it was a learning lesson of how to hold onto a lead against a ranked and battle tested opponent.


Pitt has been a joy to watch thus far this season, but the vast majority of the games have been won at home. After a big win, a week will go by in between games and the Panthers will play two conference road games. The Panthers are 1-2 away from home this season defeating Ohio State but losing to then #23 James Madison and Duquesne. Pitt needs to prove it can win away from the Petersen Events Center. If it does that, a tournament berth will be that much closer to reach.

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