Feb. 12, 2006
TAMPA, Fla. - Saturday night's victory at USF for the Pitt women's basketball team must have seemed like deja vu to the host Bulls. Back on Jan. 8, junior Mallorie Winn made a jumper with 3.1 seconds remaining to defeat the Bulls at the Petersen Events Center.
This time, there was a little more time on the clock but Winn (San Diego, Calif./Bishop's/Georgia Tech) made her third game-winning shot in Big East play, draining a shot from the top of the key with four seconds left to give Pitt a 60-58 win at the Sun Dome in Tampa.
The Panthers trailed throughout most of the game and never led in the second half until Winn made her second game-winning basket in as many Saturdays. In both games against USF this season, the Bulls had a five-point halftime lead, this time up 35-30 after the first 20 minutes.
The Bulls' lead was up to nine points with eight minutes left but Pitt (16-7, 7-5 Big East) continued to chip away until it earned the season sweep over USF (16-9, 6-6).
Winn had nine points and a game-high eight assists in 36 minutes of action, but it was the play of sophomore center Marcedes Walker (Philadelphia, Pa./University City) that gave the Panthers a chance at the comeback win.
Walker scored a game-high 23 points on 11-of-19 shooting, and pulled down 16 rebounds for her fourth consecutive double-double and her ninth of the season, while playing just 29 minutes. Fourteen of her points came in the second half on seven field goals.
With Pitt down eight at 38-30 early in the second half, Winn made consecutive shots to cut the gap to four and Walker added a lay-up with 16:57 remaining to close it to two points. The Panthers got within two points at 42-40 a few minutes later but an 8-2 Bulls run restored the lead to eight with 10:44 to go.
USF had its biggest second-half lead with 8:01 remaining at 55-46, but the Panthers scored 14 of the game's final 17 points to earn the win. Two short jumpers by Walker got the run going for Pitt, cutting the lead to five with 7:02 remaining. After the nation's leading scorer, USF's Jessica Dickson, nailed an off-balance jumper to make it a seven-point game again, Walker connected on yet another shot to make it 57-52 with 3:48 to go.
Two free throws by freshman Xenia Stewart (Bowie, Md./Riverdale Baptist) with 3:27 left made it a three-point game and Walker scored another two points on a lay-up with 2:49 to go to cut the USF lead to 57-56. Dickson was 9-of-10 from the free-throw line and finished with a game-high 23 points to match her incoming average, but she missed the second of two free throws with 1:20 left and USF had a 58-56 lead.
Walker continued her dominance down low with a great pass from Winn to tie the game on a lay-up with 51 seconds on the clock. And then Winn's jumper with four seconds remaining continued the Panthers' strong run on the road as of late.
The three straight Big East road wins are the first time Pitt accomplished that feat since the 1993-94 season, while matching its best season in over a decade with its 16th overall and seventh conference victory.
Stewart and Maddy Brown (Honeoye Falls, N.Y./Honeoye Falls-Lima) had eight points apiece for the Panthers, while USF's Shantia Grace scored 14 of her 16 points for the Bulls in the first half before getting into foul trouble. Dickson and Grace combined for 39 of the Bulls' 58 points but poor shooting plagued USF in the second half.
The Bulls shot just 23 percent in the second frame and finished the game at a 36 percent clip. Pitt was able to up its second-half shooting percentage to almost 45 percent and finished making 43 percent of its shots for the contest.
Pitt returns to action at the Petersen Events Center on Tuesday, Feb. 14, with a CSTV national broadcast against Seton Hall at 7:30 p.m.
NOTES: Sophomore Karlyle Lim (Chapel Hill, N.C./East Chapel Hill) earned her first start in almost a year, replacing Shavonte Zellous (Orlando, Fla./Jones) in the starting five...Lim finished with five points on 2-of-2 shooting, including a key three-pointer in the second half...Pitt moved into full possession of sixth place in the Big East Conference, just a half-game out of a top-four spot and a bye in the first round of the postseason tournament, to be played in Hartford, Conn., from March 4-7.
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