Feb. 28, 2006
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Pitt women's basketball team didn't lose any ground, despite falling 72-65 in its regular-season finale to Notre Dame on Tuesday, finishing sixth in the Big East Conference. It is the highest finish for the Panthers since earning a No. 4 seed in the 1995 postseason conference tournament.
Pitt (18-9, 9-7 Big East) played "its best half of basketball", according to head coach Agnus Berenato in the first half of Tuesday's loss to the Fighting Irish, taking a 41-31 lead into the break. The Panthers shot 55 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes with a perfect 16 assists on 16 field goals made.
The Panthers trailed early by a count of 11-8 to the Fighting Irish (17-10, 8-8), who finished in 10th place in the Big East. The Panthers went on a 30-12 run, however, over the next 12 minutes to reverse a three-point deficit into a 15-point lead at 38-23. Freshman Xenia Stewart (Bowie, Md./Riverdale Baptist) had seven of the Panthers' 16 assists at the break, while junior Danielle Taylor (Cleveland, Ohio/Villa Angela-St. Joseph) scored all 10 of her points off the bench to lead Pitt.
The Panthers had an 11-point advantage early in the second half at 44-33, but a 13-1 run by the Fighting Irish made it a new ballgame. The teams battled back and forth with two ties and six lead changes over the next several minutes. A lay-up by Cheron Taylor (Detroit, Mich./Martin Luther King) with 9:34 to go gave the Panthers their last lead at 55-54.
A 6-0 run by Notre Dame gave the Fighting Irish the lead for good and they finished it off with a seven-point win. Lindsay Schrader had a game-high 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting, and added a team-best nine rebounds, to lead four Fighting Irish players in double figures.
Pitt freshman Maddy Brown (Honeoye Falls, N.Y./Honeoye Falls-Lima) led the Panthers with 13 points off the bench, making four of her seven three-point attempts, in 23 minutes of action. Marcedes Walker (Philadelphia, Pa./University City) registered her 12th double-double of the season and the 21st of her career with 12 points and a game-high and season-high-tying 18 rebounds. The 12-point effort extended her Big East-best double-figure scoring streak to 19 games.
Cheron Taylor finished with nine points and four rebounds, while Shavonte Zellous (Orlando, Fla./Jones) had eight points, six rebounds and four assists in 36 minutes of action. Junior guard Mallorie Winn (San Diego, Calif./Bishop's/Georgia Tech) finished with nine points, six rebounds and three assists.
Pitt finished in a four-place tie at 9-7 but owned the tiebreaker with a 3-1 record against USF, Villanova and Marquette - the other teams tied with that record. The Panthers will take on the No. 11 seed Cincinnati on Saturday, March 4, with game time scheduled to begin at 8 p.m or a half-hour following the completion of the USF-Notre Dame game, which begins at 6 p.m.
The Panthers defeated Cincinnati, 64-63, on Feb. 4 at the Fifth Third Arena in Cincinnati. It will be the second postseason meeting between the schools, with the first coming in the 2000 WNIT at the Fitzgerald Field House. The winner of Saturday's game will play third-seed and nationally ranked DePaul on Sunday, March 5 at the same time.
NOTES: Notre Dame improved to 16-0 all-time against the Panthers...Pitt outrebounded Notre Dame, 44-38, but trailed in every other statistical category...Pitt is 2-2 all-time vs. Cincinnati, including this year's victory.
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