March 22, 2006
It had been four years since a Pitt basketball game was played at Fitzgerald Field House, and with an 85-76 victory on Wednesday night, the Panthers' women's basketball team made sure there wouldn't be that long of a wait again.
The Panthers (21-10) won their WNIT second-round contest over Mississippi (17-14) at the Field House, advancing to the quarterfinals against Virginia. That game will also be at the Fitzgerald Field House on Friday evening at 7 p.m.
Junior guard Mallorie Winn (San Diego, Calif./Bishop's/Georgia Tech) led four Panthers in double figures with a career-best 27 points, adding three rebounds and three assists against just one turnover in 39 minutes. Senior Cheron Taylor (Detroit, Mich./Martin Luther King) extended her playing career with just her second double-double of the season, scoring 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field and pulling down 10 boards. Taylor also had a career-best four steals against the Rebels.
Also in double figures for Pitt were Marcedes Walker (Philadelphia, Pa./University City), with 15 points, five rebounds and two blocks, and freshman Shavonte Zellous (Orlando, Fla./Jones), who posted her first career double-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and tied a season-high with seven assists.
Mississippi did get 26 points, six rebounds and six assists from its top player, Armintie Price, but only led for a total of three minutes in the game as Pitt had its second-best offensive output of the year. The win was also the Panthers' 21st, tying the second-highest victory total in school history. Pitt won 22 games back in 1980-81.
The game was a closely-contested one throughout the first half. After trading baskets for the first five minutes, Pitt went on a 7-2 run to take a 15-10 lead with 13:27 to go. Five different Panthers scored in the first seven minutes of the game, giving the Rebels fits defensively. Mississippi tied it twice more in the first frame at 19-19 and 21-21 but Pitt closed the half with a 39-35 advantage. Winn had 14 points at the break and Taylor had nine points and six rebounds in the first 20 minutes.
The Rebels battled back quickly in the second half, going on a 14-7 run over the first 5:10 to take their biggest lead at 49-46. A 6-0 run by the Panthers, highlighted by two Walker baskets, regained the lead for the Panthers and they would push that advantage to double-digits with 5:38 remaining before finishing with the nine-point win.
Ashley Awkward helped the Rebels out with 14 points and three assists, while Danetra Forrest came off the bench to score 16 points and pulled down four rebounds. The win was the Panthers' second over a school from the SEC.
Pitt's game against Virginia will be Friday, March 24, at 7 p.m. For tickets to the WNIT quarterfinal, call the Panthers Ticket Office at (412) 648-PITT (7488).
NOTES: The Panthers tied a season best with 21 assists on their 30 baskets...Pitt shot 45.5 percent from the floor, while the Rebels connected on 44.1 percent of their shots...Pitt made 32 trips to the charity stripe, making 23 of them for a 71.9 percent clip...freshman Xenia Stewart (Bowie, Md./Riverdale Baptist) finished with nine points, five rebounds, six assists and three steals for the Panthers.