March 1, 2012
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PITTSBURGH - Pitt women's basketball will compete in its 27th Big East Championship, beginning Friday, March 2 at 2 p.m. The tournament, which runs through March 6, will take place at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.
The game will be broadcast live on WJAS AM with Scott Stiller and Jen Tuscano calling the action. The radio broadcast is also available via Pitt Panthers All-Access. Bigeast.tv will broadcast the game (video) on the internet. For full coverage of the tournament, visit WBB Tournament Central.
The Panthers (8-21) will face No. 9 USF (16-14) in the first round. Pitt holds a 15-26 (.366) all-time record in the Big East Championship. The Panthers enter the tournament as the No. 16, the lowest seed in program history. Previously the lowest seed for a Pitt team was No. 13 (1996, 1997, 1998)
Pitt has appeared in 26 previous Big East Championships, including the first-ever in 1983 hosted by Providence College at Alumni Hall. They have failed to appear in three tournaments (2001, 2002 and 2004). The Panthers have been seeded as high as No. 1, ranked as the top team in the 1984 Big East Championship held at Alumni Hall at St. John’s. That squad fell to No. 4 Seton Hall in the semifinals. In 13 of the Panthers’ 26 previous Big East Champsionships, Pitt has failed to move past its first tournament game.
Coach B & the Big East Tourney
Pitt head coach Agnus Berenato, in her ninth season at the helm of the Panthers, holds a 6-7 (.462)record in the Big East Tournament,. The mark dates back to 2005 (seeded ninth in first season). In her first season (2003-04), Pitt did not qualify for the tournament.
Following a two-game bye in 2009, the No. 3 Panthers downed the sixth-seeded DePaul Blue Demons, 62-59, before falling to the No. 2 Louisville, 69-63 in the semifinal round. That semifinal visit the ninth time Pitt had advanced to that round.
In 2008, the Panthers reached their first semifinal game under Berenato. No. 5 Pitt defeated 12-seeded Villanova (69-63) in the first round and upset fourth-seeded Notre Dame (64-53) in the quarterfinals before falling to No. 1 Connecticut in the semifinals. The win over No. 9-ranked Notre Dame was the first top 10 opponent the Panthers had defeated in school history. Prior to 2008, Pitt had only advanced past the first Big East tourney showing in two of the previous eight postseasons.
Experience in Hartford
Marquel Davis, Ashlee Anderson and Leeza Burdgess are the seasoned veterans in Big East tourney play for the Panthers - although that means just two previous games.
Davis averaged 25.5 minutes and averaged 4.0 points (4-7 FG). Anderson averaged 16.5 minutes in two games in the 2011 Big East Championship. She scored two points (2-2 FT), faling to hit a field goal. Burdgess averaged 7.0 points and 2.0 rebounds in 18.5 minutes in last year’s games versus USF and Marquette. She played 24 minutes against USF in first round play and 13 versus Marquette in the next round on March 5.
Friday’s meeting with USF is the 11th against one of the newest members of the Big East. Pitt leads USF in head-to-head meetings, 7-3. Today’s matchup is the fourth meeting with USF in a 38-game span. Pitt won four-straight to open the series and has won three of the last five.
The Panthers are unbeaten (4-0) versus the Bulls on their home court - the Petersen Events Center and lead 1-0 on a neutral court. Six of the nine games in the series have been decided by a combined total of 16 points (two by two each, one contest by a single point and two last season by four and three points, respectively).
Pitt has had four match-ups decided in the final minute of play, including game-winners in the final five seconds of play in back-to-back games in 2006 (the teams met twice during the regular season). The two meetings last season - the first in regular season and the second in Big East Tournament play - both each decided in the waning minutes.
Pitt shot 66.7 percent (8-of-12) in the second half versus USF last season in a 63-60 win in first round of the Big East Championship - the best second half shooting effort of the 2010-11 season. In total - in two games against USF last season, Pitt was 20-of-32 (.625) combined in the second half. The Panthers shot at a 60 percent clip when the squads met at the Petersen Events Center on Feb. 12, 2011.
The last time these teams met in Tampa on Feb. 18 (13 days ago), Pitt failed to hit a 3-pointer (0-of-10) and lost a seven-point fifrst half lead. The Panthers led for the first 19 minutes of the first half, up until the final second of the first period. Pitt pulled to three points with 14:14 to go in the game, but got no closer as two straight turnovers made it difficult to gain ground in falling 62-50.
Series Individual Highs in Big East Play
Most points in a single game:
27 Shavonte Zellous, Pitt 1-17-09
24 Jessica Dickson, USF 1-8-06
Most rebounds in a single game:
17 Chelsea Cole 2-12-11
13 Nalini Miller, USF 2-10-07
Most assists in a single game:
9 Mallorie Winn, Pitt 3-1-08
9 Xenia Stewart, Pitt 1-17-09
8 Shantia Grace, USF 2-10-07
Most blocks in a single game:
4 Chelsea Cole, Pitt 2-12-11
6 Nalini Miller, USF 2-10-07
The series started with a pair of exciting games during the 2005-06 campaign. Ironincally, the person that
might best remember those games is still on the Pitt bench, not as a player, but as an assistant coach.
The squads first faced off on Jan. 8, 2006 with the Panthers posting a 66-64 victory at the Petersen Events Center. In a game that featured 12 ties and 13 lead changes, the Panthers had a five point edge with 1:56 to play. The Bulls used a 5-0 run to tie the game at 64-64 on a pair of free throws by Shantia Grace with 17 seconds showing. Mallorie Winn drained the winning shot - which rattled around the rim before falling through - with 3.1 seconds left for victory.
In the second-ever meeting between the clubs, Pitt rallied - scoring 10 of the game’s final 11 points en route to a 60-58 victory on Feb. 11, 2006 at the Sun Dome. The winning jumper came from Winn with four seconds to go while Xenia Stewart blocked the final attempt from the Bulls as time expired.
Before Pitt and USF faced off in 2007 (and according to a newspaper account in The Oracle), USF head coach Jose Fernandez gave his team a little reminder of the Bulls’ two losses to Pitt the previous season. During a practice session prior to the Jan. 20, 2007 game, he passed out laminated cards that read: ‘66-64’ and ‘60-58,’ the scores from the two games in 2006.
Not To Be Outdone
Senior Taneisha Harrison exploded for 27 points and five assists, while senior Jania Sims had 15 points and four dimes in a 70-66 home win over USF on Feb. 12, 2011. The Bulls led by 11 points (with 14:28 to go) before the Panthers tallied eight-straight to close the gap to three. USF would hit just two field goals over the finla 2:25 of play as Pitt took advantage. The Panthers hit 3-of-4 from the free throw line over the final 11 seconds to seal the victory. Pitt shot 57.1 percent from the field for the contest, including a 60 percent mark in the second half. USF was at a 33.3 percent clip for the contest, but shot 41.2 percent from behind the arc.
The teams met for the second time in the Big East Championship on March 4, 2011. Senior guard Jania Sims scored 17 points to lead Pitt to the 63-60 victory. The Panthers shot 55.3 percent from the field for the contest, including 66.7 percent in the second half. Pitt, who led by as many as 15 points in the second half, saw as USF knotted the game at 59-59 with 49.7 seconds left. gained the lead for good on its next trip down the court. After a timeout, Sims found Chelsea Cole on the inbounds pass for two-plus-the foul with 28.9 seconds showing to make it 62-60. Another Pitt free throw made it a three-point lead. The Bulls had two three-point tries in the final five seconds, but could not convert.
The Bulls, who have won four of the past five, are 16-14 on the season and finished 8-8 in league play. The Bulls are paced in two major categories by Jasmine Wynne, who is averaging 15.6 points and 5.7 rebounds a game. Wynne has scored in double figures in 25 of 27 games played - including the past 23-straight.
Guard Inga Orekhova is averaging 12.5 points in 15 games (she sat out the first 15 games after transferring in from junior college). She has drained 41 3-pointers (2.67 per game) in a dozen contests and has three triples or more in a single game in seven contests.
PITT (8-21) vs. USF (16-14)
When: Friday, March 2 - Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Where: XL Center, Hartford, Conn.
On the Air (Internet):Live and free, streamed on www. BIGEAST.tv.
On the Air (Radio): WJAS AM 1320, Scott Stiller, Jen Tuscano
Live Stats: www.bigeast.org
Series History: Pitt leads, 7-3
Current Streak: USF, W1
Home: Pitt leads 4-0
Away: USF leads 3-2
Neutral: Pitt leads 1-0
Last Meeting: USF 62, Pitt 50, Feb. 18, 2012, Tampa, Fla.
Last Season in BET: Pitt 63, USF 60, Mar. 4, 2011; Hartford Conn., Big East Tournament First Round
First Meeting: Pitt 66, USF 64, Jan. 8, 2006,
Storylines & Notables:
Pitt is 15-26 all-time in Big East Championship games and 6-7 under ninth year head coach Agnus Berenato.
The Panthers are appearing in their 27th Big East Championship.
This is the fourth meeting with USF in a 38-game span. The teams last met on Feb. 18 in Tampa- 13 days ago. 4 Six of the 10 games in the series have been decided by five points or less.
Agnus Berenato (Mount St. Mary’s, 1980)
438-388/28th season overall
155-124/Ninth season at Pitt
Last Time Out
The Panthers dropped a 62-40 decision at West Virginia on Monday. Freshman Brianna Kiesel had 21 points. Pitt had 13 more shots than WVU in the second half and converted the same amount of field goals (11), but could not make up the difference from the free throw line (18-of-25 to 1-of-3/second half).
Brianna Kiesel, Fr., G, 13.2 ppg, 3.0 apg, 36.2 mpg, second in Big East
Ashlee Anderson, So-RS, G, 10.8 ppg, 2.2 apg, 43 steals
Leeza Burdgess, So.-RS, C, 6.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg.
Geno Fernandez (FIU, 1994)
at USF and overall
Last Time Out
The Bulls outlasted Providence in overtime on Monday in the Big East regular season finale. USF posted a 64-56 win behind double figures from three players, including Inga Orekhova (17 points, including four 3-pointers)
Jasmine Wynne, Sr., G, 15.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg, accounting for 25.8 percent of team’s total trips to FT line.
Inga Orekhova, Jr. G, 12.5 ppg, 41 3-pointers, averaging 15 points over past 4 games.
Andrell Smith, Jr., G, 7.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, second on team in 3-pointers (36).