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Pittsburgh Defeated by No. 21 Florida State, 78-69

Lo Briggs

Lo Briggs

January 02, 2014

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PITTSBURGH - The University of Pittsburgh women's basketball team lost its inaugural ACC league game on Thursday night as the Panthers were defeated by No. 21 Florida State 78-69 at the Petersen Events Center.  

Junior guard Brianna Kiesel led three Panthers in double-figures with 20 points, while redshirt sophomore Loliya Briggs had 15 and senior Asia Logan added 14 and nine rebounds. The Seminoles were paced by senior Natasha Howard who had 27 points on 12-of-15 shooting. FSU (13-1, 1-0) forced Pitt into a season-high 25 turnovers and converted those turnovers in 26 points, but helped Pitt stay in the game by missing 16 free throws (20-for-36).

Pitt (8-7, 0-1) trailed by as many as 18 points early in the second half, but mounted a valiant comeback which saw the Panthers get within six with 1:13 remaining. Despite only shooting 55 percent from the free throw line for the game, FSU went 8-for-9 from the charity stripe in the final two minutes.

"Obviously I am disappointed with the outcome, but our players competed; we never quit and continued to battle," head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio said. "We had our chances down the stretch. We got within six, with the ball, and missed two shots and a couple of free throws. If we make any of those plays, it changes the complexion of the game."  

Both teams made three of their first seven shots from the field, but FSU grabbed an early 9-6 lead. The Panthers would not lead in the half, but hung tough, and a 3-pointer from Fred Potvin had Pitt trailing by just three (21-18) at the under eight media timeout.

FSU would score eight of the next 10 points, gaining a nine point lead, but back-to-back buckets from Ashlee Anderson and Kiesel ended the FSU momentum and the Seminoles called a timeout with 4:09 remaining in the half up 29-24.

Out of that timeout, FSU ended the half on a 10-4 run as four different Seminoles scored during that spurt to lead 39-28 at the half. Howard had 11 first half points to lead all players, but FSU was just 5-for-12 from the free throw line.

Pitt turned the ball over on its first four possessions of the second half, which forced McConnell-Serio into a timeout just one minute into the half and FSU leading 42-28. The Seminoles registered the first seven points out of the locker room to grab its largest lead of the game at 46-28.

The Panthers would then begin to mount their comeback, slashing the FSU lead to 51-39 when Potvin found Cora McManus with a no-look pass under the hoop for an uncontested layup with 13:08 remaining. The FSU lead ballooned back to 17 (62-45) with a layup from Yashira Delgado at the 7:48 mark, but Pitt once again fought back to close the gap.

After Delgado's bucket, Pitt went on a 13-4 run, sparked by 11 points from Kiesel, to get within eight at 66-58 with 3:57 to play. During that stretch, Pitt had two phenomenal looks from behind the arc which would have cut the FSU lead to five, but Chelsea Welch and Brittany Gordon both saw their shots go halfway down and pop out.

One final push got the Panthers within six (68-62), but Howard's and-1 with 1:12 left put the Seminoles back up nine and they would go on to win by that margin.

The Panthers shot 41 percent for the game (27-of-66), while FSU was 45 percent (28-of-62). Pitt was out-rebounded for the first time in three games as FSU held the slight advantage on the glass, 45-40. Twenty of FSU's 45 rebounds were on the offensive glass which led them holding a 24-10 advantage in 2nd chance points.

It is a quick turn-around for the Panthers as they now hit the road for their first away league game coming this Sunday at Virginia. Tip-off in Charlottesville, Va. is set for 2 p.m.

Notes: Kiesel has scored 20-or-more points in three of her last four games...She has also made 30 of her last 32 attempts from the free throw line...Kiesel has scored in double-figures in 21 straight games, dating back to last season...Ashlee Anderson grabbed a season-high nine rebounds as she and Asia Logan tied for a team-high in that category...Florida State's Ivory Slaughter had an identical stat line of 11 points and 13 rebounds for the second-consecutive game...FSU had four players in double-figures.