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Comeback Falls Short as No. 13 NC State Defeats Pitt, 79-68

Brittany Gordon had a season-high 12 points vs. NC State

Brittany Gordon had a season-high 12 points vs. NC State

Feb. 27, 2014

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PITTSBURGH - Trailing by 23 with 7:20 remaining, the University of Pittsburgh women's basketball team used a 22-6 run to get within seven points, but could not complete the comeback as the Panthers suffered a 79-68 defeat to No. 13 NC State on Thursday night at the Petersen Events Center.

The 22-6 run brought the score to 71-64 in favor of the Wolfpack with 1:37 to go, but NC State (24-5, 11-4 ACC) converted at the line down the stretch to separate from the Panthers (11-18, 3-12 ACC) and earned the 11 point victory.

Freshman guard Chelsea Welch tallied a career-high 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting and 4-for-7 from 3-point range. Junior Brianna Kiesel scored 13 points, had seven assists and grabbed six rebounds, and sophomore Brittany Gordon contributed a season-high 12.

NC State had five players score in double-figures, led by the Markeisha Gatling, the league's leader in field goal percentage, who had 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Len'Nique Brown had 19 points, while Miah Spencer chipped in with 14 points and nine rebounds.

"We knew we had our hands full with their post players and [Markeisha] Gatling and [Kody] Burke inside; the combination with the two together, Burke being able to stretch defenses and the presence of Gatling inside," head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio said. "We expended a lot of energy and we talked for two days about how we were going to double team. It was kind of pick your poison tonight because their guards started hitting shots from the perimeter and then Gatling was unstoppable. In the second half, we went to a younger line up with [Brittany] Gordon, [Chelsea] Welch and [Fred] Potvin came off the bench and I thought they gave us great energy and were a spark defensively. For me, it was fun to coach. The effort was there and the energy was there."   

Both teams came out of the gates shooting well as NC state made seven of their first 11 shots, and Pitt seven of their first 14. The game didn't have a whistle for seven straight minutes and the first media timeout took place at the 10:49 mark of the half with NC State leading 19-17.

The Wolfpack kept that hot shooting up for the remainder of the half, and out of that media timeout NC State scored nine unanswered points to grab a 28-19 advantage.

NC State continued to apply pressure and gathered their largest lead of the half of 35-21 when Miah Spencer connected on her third 3-pointer with 3:21 left. Both she and Loliya Briggs led their respective teams with nine points apiece at the half as the Wolfpack led 39-27 at the break.

NC State came out of the locker room making its first four shots of the half and a Krystal Barrett 3-pointer capped an 8-2 run which forced Pitt into an early timeout with NC State leading 48-29 with 18:01 remaining in the game.

The game seemed out of reach with NC State maintaining a comfortable lead throughout the majority of the second half, but Welch started the comeback by scoring eight straight Pitt points to keep the Panthers within a reasonable distance.

With the Wolfpack leading 70-52, Pitt used a 12-1 run which brought the score to 71-64 with 1:37 left. Kiesel connected on five of her eight made free throws during that stretch while Cora McManus and Welch chipped in with the other seven points.

However, NC State's Len'Nique Brown was 6-for-6 down the stretch at the free throw line which sealed the game for NC State.

The Wolfpack shot 53.8 percent for the game, while the Panthers were 34.3 percent. NC State held 42-30 on the glass and outscored Pitt 38-20 in the paint. Pitt's bench outscored NC State 37-10. 

Pitt will conclude the regular-season this Sunday afternoon in Coral Gables, Fla., when the Panthers take on the Miami Hurricanes. It is then on to Greensboro, N.C. for the ACC Tournament which is set to take place from March 5-9.