March 5, 2006
HARTFORD, Conn. - The Pitt women's basketball team must now wait and see where its next game will be - in the NCAA Championship for the first time in school history or a fourth trip to the WNIT - after a 69-46 loss to No. 13 DePaul on Sunday evening in the Big East Championship quarterfinals.
The Panthers (19-10) trailed 23-5 early in the contest but battled back to a nine-point halftime deficit at 29-20. An early three-point play in the second half by freshman Xenia Stewart (Bowie, Md./Riverdale Baptist) made it a six-point game and momentum was on the Panthers' side but DePaul went on a 29-4 run over the next 11 minutes to close out any chance of a comeback.
Pitt struggled from the floor, one night after recording the second-highest field-goal percentage in a Big East tournament game. The Panthers made just 12-of-47 attempts for a 25.5 percent clip, their lowest of the season and the third time they shot worse than 30 percent in 29 contests. DePaul (25-5) was able to shoot 47 percent from the floor and scored 30 points off of a season-high 23 turnovers by the Panthers.
Junior guard Mallorie Winn (San Diego, Calif./Bishop's/Georgia Tech) led the Panthers with 12 points and tied a career high with nine rebounds against the Blue Demons. Winn also had two assists, a career-high-tying two blocks and a steal in 38 minutes. Also in double figures for the Panthers were freshmen Shavonte Zellous (Orlando, Fla./Jones) and Stewart with 11 points apiece. Zellous had five rebounds, two blocks and a steal, while Stewart made all seven of her free-throw attempts, three rebounds, three assists and two steals.
DePaul was led by Caprice Smith, with a game-high 17 points including four three-pointers, and Khara Smith's 16 points. As a team, DePaul made 10 of its 23 three-point attempts (43.5 percent), the most against the Panthers this year.
It was the Panthers' first berth in the Big East quarterfinals in a decade and appeared a bit fatigued after Saturday night's first-round 77-62 victory over 11th-seed Cincinnati.
The Panthers will be watching intently on Monday, March 13, when the NCAA Tournament field is announced at 6:30 p.m. Pitt's last postseason tournament appearance came in 2000 at the WNIT.
NOTES: Sophomore center Marcedes Walker (Philadelphia, Pa./University City) had her 20-game double-figure scoring-streak snapped...Walker finished with nine points and seven rebounds...DePaul's bench outscored Pitt's by a margin of 31-1 in the game.
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