Feb. 19, 2006
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -
En route to an 18th victory for just the fifth time in the program's 32-year history, the Pitt women's basketball ended a 10-game losing streak at the WVU Coliseum that dated back 25 years. Pitt downed the host Mountaineers, 62-58, to move into a third-place tie in the Big East Conference.
The Panthers (18-7, 9-5) won for the sixth time in their last seven games, for the fourth consecutive time on the road, for the first time against West Virginia since the 2002-03 season and for the first time at the WVU Coliseum since Jan. 14, 1981.
The Panthers led by eight at halftime and by as many as 16 points early in the second half before the Mountaineers (12-12, 4-9) went on a 27-11 run to tie the game at 56-56 with just 1:40 to play. Two free throws by senior Cheron Taylor (Detroit, Mich./Martin Luther King) and four by freshman Shavonte Zellous (Orlando, Fla./Jones) in the last 100 seconds enabled Pitt to hold on for the four-point win.
Zellous scored 11 points with a perfect 9-of-9 performance from the free-throw line in the second half, giving her a 14-of-15 week from the charity stripe in the Panthers' two wins. The Panthers shot 83.3 percent from the free-throw line as a team, making 20 of their 24 attempts for their second-best conversion rate this season.
West Virginia outshot and outrebounded the Panthers, but only led for 1:10 in the early stages of the first half. Down 9-6, the Panthers regained the lead at 10-9 and extended the advantage to eight points at 32-24 going into the break.
The Panthers opened the second half on a 13-5 run to make it a 45-29 game with 15:27 left but the Mountaineers chipped away at the lead until they tied it with less than two minutes remaining. Pitt was able to make 66.7 percent of its first-half field-goal attempts (12-of-18) but only converted seven of 26 attempts in the second half (26.9 percent). For the game, West Virginia shot 47.2 percent and had 31 rebounds to the Panthers' 29 but Pitt's ability to drain its free throws extended what has been the team's most successful season in over a decade.
Junior guard Mallorie Winn (San Diego, Calif./Bishop's/Georgia Tech)
had a game-high 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting, had two three-pointers, a perfect 4-of-4 day from the free-throw line, four rebounds, two assists, a block and two steals in 34 minutes of action. Sophomore center Marcedes Walker (Philadelphia, Pa./University City)
added 17 points and 12 rebounds for her 10th double-double of the season and the 19th of her career. She also tied a career high with four blocks and added two steals as well defensively.
West Virginia was led by Olayinka Sanni's 17 points on 8-of-15 shooting, and Chakhia Cole's 13 points, six rebounds and seven assists, but made just 4-of-9 free-throw attempts and turned the ball over 16 times leading to 21 Pitt points.
The Panthers have just two regular-season games remaining - at home vs. Rutgers on Saturday, Feb. 25 for Senior Day to honor Taylor, the team's lone upperclassmen, and Tuesday, Feb. 28 at Notre Dame. The Panthers have already clinched a berth in the Big East Championship, to be held in Hartford, Conn., from March 4-7.
NOTES: The loss was West Virginia's fourth in a row...the Mountaineers outscored Pitt in the paint by a 34-14 margin...Pitt's Maddy Brown (Honeoye Falls, N.Y./Honeoye Falls-Lima) came off the bench to score eight points on 3-of-4 shooting, including two three-pointers.