March 18, 2006
For just the fourth time in the program's 32-year history, the Pitt women's basketball team has won 20 games in a single season. The Panthers never trailed in a 64-57 victory at the Petersen Events Center over WNIT first-round opponent Delaware on Saturday afternoon.
Pitt (20-10) won a postseason game for the first time since the 1994 NWIT and improved its overall record to 5-3 in four postseason appearances with the win over the Fightin' Blue Hens (22-8).
Senior guard Mallorie Winn (San Diego, Calif./Bishop's/Georgia Tech) scored a team-high 17 points, 13 of which came in the first half, and finished with eight rebounds, three assists and a block in 39 minutes of action. Junior Danielle Taylor (Cleveland, Ohio/Villa Angela-St. Joseph) came off the bench to make 5-of-7 shots from the field, and finished with a season-best 12 points to go along with four rebounds.
Melissa Czorniewy led all scorers with 21 points for the Fightin' Blue Hens, including 15 in the second half. Tyresa Smith passed the 1,000-point plateau in her career for Delaware and finished with a double-double, scoring 15 points and pulling down 13 rebounds.
The Panthers scored the game's first five points on a lay-up by Marcedes Walker (Philadelphia, Pa./University City) and a three-pointer by Winn and held the lead the rest of the way. Delaware cut it to one point on two occasions early at 5-4 and 7-6 but an 8-0 run by the Panthers, highlighted by three-pointers from Winn and Maddy Brown (Honeoye Falls, N.Y./Honeoye Falls-Lima), pushed Pitt's lead to nine.
That was the largest lead for the Panthers as Delaware battled to keep the game close for the final 33 minutes but couldn't get it close enough. A lay-up by Chrissy Fisher pulled the Blue Hens within three early in the second half at 32-29, but two free throws by Xenia Stewart (Bowie, Md./Riverdale Baptist) and a lay-up by Walker made it a seven-point game again. Fisher again nailed a key jumper to make it a two-point affair at 43-41 with 8:50 remaining but Winn and Taylor kept Delaware at a manageable distance.
Walker finished with nine points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, while freshman guard Shavonte Zellous (Orlando, Fla./Jones)
scored 11 points for the Panthers, adding four rebounds, three assists and a season-best four blocks. Pitt had a season-high 10 rejections in the contest.
The Panthers will face the winner of Sunday night's Kansas-Mississippi game in the second round of the WNIT, to be held Tuesday or Wednesday evening. Game time and location will be announced after that game's completion.
NOTES: Pitt shot 38.6 percent from the game, but held the Fightin' Blue Hens to a 33.3 percent clip...Pitt outscored Delaware, 24-14, in the paint and its bench outscored Delaware's by a count of 20-4...Pitt's record for wins in a season is 22 in 1980-81.