Jan. 22, 2008
NEW YORK (AP) - Pittsburgh coach Agnus Berenato was happy to finally walk away with a victory over St. John's.
Shavonte Zellous scored 28 points and the 19th-ranked Panthers ended a six-game losing streak to the Red Storm with a 70-64 victory on Tuesday night.
"I'm so proud of our team that we weather the storm," Berenato said. "It wasn't pretty but it goes down as a win and I'll take an ugly win over a pretty loss any day."
Zellous scored 20 of her 28 in the second half as Pitt won its ninth straight game.
Marcedes Walker added 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Panthers (15-3, 5-0 Big East), who are 5-0 in the conference for only the second time in school history. The No. 19 ranking matches the highest for Pitt, which was also ranked 19th on Dec. 18, 1979.
"It means a lot being ranked and we have a lot at stake against St. John's," Walker said.
Kristin Moore scored a career-high 15 points to lead St. John's (10-8, 1-4).
"It makes me excited to see her have a game like this," said Kia Wright, who added 10 for the Red Storm. "Now she's got to do it every game."
Wright, Sky Lindsay, and Monique McLean, who all average in double figures for the Red Storm, were a combined 3-for-22 from the field.
"Our starting guard combo has been struggling at lot at this point," St. John's coach Kim Barnes Arico said. "Sky and Monique are very talented players and I figure they are going to get hot at some point."
It was the third straight ranked opponent that the Red Storm have faced. They lost in overtime at DePaul and played West Virginia tough for a half before getting routed. St. John's offensive woes continued in the first half against Pitt. Leading 15-14 with 11:55 left in the first half, the Red Storm made just one of their next 17 shots over the next 10 minutes.
Pittsburgh outscored St. John's 17-2 during that stretch to take a 31-17 lead before Joy McCorvey finally ended the drought with a putback of her own miss at 1:41. The Panthers led 33-21 at the half.
The Panthers started the second half with a 16-5 run to put the game away. Zellous and Walker each scored six points during the spurt. Walker's layup gave Pitt a 49-26 advantage.
Trailing by 20 with 9:13 left, St. John's used a 12-2 run to close to 57-47 on Moore's three-point play. She had seven points during the spurt. Pitt extended the lead back up to 66-51 on Zellous' three-point play with 3:13 left. The Red Storm refused to go away, scoring the next nine points to close to 66-60 with 1 minute left, but could get no closer.
"We were down 20 points and for us to cut it to six shows a lot about our team," Barnes Arico said.
Pitt, which also started out 5-0 in the Big East in 1993-94, faces Louisville and Villanova before a very difficult February. The Panthers will host No. 5 Rutgers and Seton Hall before traveling to No. 16 Notre Dame and No. 12 West Virginia. They finish off the tough stretch by hosting top-ranked Connecticut.
"I'm not worried about Februrary right now," Berenato said. "We have Louisville on Sunday."
St. John's leads the all-time series 30-15 and had won the previous six meetings between the schools.