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March 7, 2013

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No. 15 SEED PITT (9-20) vs. No. 10 SEED MARQUETTE (15-14)

When: Friday, March 8 - Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Location: XL Center, Hartford, Conn.
Officials: TBD
On the Air (Radio):
WJAS 1320 (live and streamed on website); George Von Benko, Jen Tuscano
Live Stats/GameTracker:
Live Broadcast: www.
Series Info:  Marquette leads, 9-2
Current Streak: Marquette W5
Home: Series tied at 2-2
Away: Marquette leads 5-0
Neutral: Marquette leads 2-0
Last Meeting: Jan. 19, 2013, Pittsburgh, Pa.; MU 74, Pitt 65
First Meeting: Jan. 18. 2006, Milwaukee, MU 71, Pitt 62
Storylines & Notables:
• Pitt is 15-27 all-time in Big East Championship games and 6-8 under head coach Agnus Berenato in tourney play.  
• The Panthers are appearing in their 28th and final Big East Championship.
• This is the third meeting with Marqutte in Big East Championship play; the teams met previously in 2007 and 2011.
• Nine of the 11 meetings have been decided by 13 points or less and six of the 11 games by nine points or fewer.


Pitt: Agnus Berenato
(Mount St. Mary's, 1980)
444-412/29th season overall
161-148/10th season at Pitt
64-109/Big East Overall  (regular season and tourney)

Marquette:  Terri Mitchell
(Duquesne, 1989)
324-202/17th season at MU and overall
66-72/Big East Overall
(regular season and tourney)

Pitt Stat Leaders:

Brianna Kiesel, So., G,  15.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.9 apg , .810 FT%
Asia Logan, Jr., F,  14.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 8 double-doubles
Ashlee Anderson, Jr.-RS, G, 6.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg
Loliya Briggs, Fr.-RS, G, 6.6 ppg, 2.1 apg

Marquette Stat Leaders:
• Katherine Plouffe, Jr., F, 13.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.9 apg, started all 29 games
• Arlesia Morse, So., G, 12.4 ppg, 363 rpg, 47 3-pointers
• Sarina Simmons, Sr., F,  9.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.9 spg (team-best 55 steals)

In the Big East Championship
Pitt holds a 15-27 (.357) all-time record in the Big East Championship. The Panthers enter the tournament as the No. 15 seed. Before last season - when Pitt was seeded No. 16 - the lowest seed for a Panthers team was 13th (1996, 1997, 1998). The first-round game versus Marquette on Friday, March 8 will be Pitt's 43rd Big East Championship contest.

The Panthers have appeared in 27 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 ranked as high as the #1 seed, 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 14 of the Panthers' 27 previous Big East Championships, Pitt has been ousted after one game in the tournament.   

Last Year's Heartbreaker in Hartford
For many Pitt players last season was the first time they had experienced the Big East Tournament. After going without a win in the regular season, the Panthers saw their furious rally fall short in the Big East Championship - dropping a 60-59 decision to No. 9 seed USF in first round action.  Then-freshman Brianna Kiesel, who was presented with her Big East All-Freshman team award prior to tip, led the Panthers with 24 points. The guard scored 15 points in the second half as Pitt overcame a 21-point deficit.

Pitt were down 39-20 at the break and trailed by 21 points to open the second period. The Panthers' game ignited from that point as they rattled off 15-straight points behind scores from four different players. A Marquel Davis' bucket cut the USF lead to six at 41-35 with 13:56 remaining.

Pitt reeled off an 8-1 run to pull to two at 55-53 at the 5:53 mark. Kiesel - once again - sparked the team as the guard commenced the run with a three-point play.  Neither team scored again until the 2:19 mark when a Pitt layup tied the game at 55-55. The Panthers gained their first advantage on the next play (57-55) 1:50 left in the contest.

USF called its last timeout and would score coming out of it when Jasmine Wynn converted a layup and the free throw that followed to knot the game at 57-57. With 53.1 seconds, Kiesel calmly drained a jumper to put Pitt back ahead, 59-57. USF responded 11 seconds later with a 3-pointer, its ninth of the game, to make it 60-59. The Panthers had two opportunities in the final 40 seconds. Kiesel's shot was off as the ball bounced off the front of the rim. Players dove for the ball, but Pitt could not get a timeout called as instead a jump ball was signaled with 15.5 seconds remaining and the possession arrow went to USF.

With 14.2 seconds left, the Panthers fouled Shaleth Stringfield who missed the front end of the one-and-one. Pitt had one last chance as the ball never left Kiesel's hand. Her eight-footer with 1.6 seconds bounced in and around the rim before falling out as USF escaped with the win.

The Panthers shot 56.3 percent in the second half (18-of-32), compiling a 43.9 percent field goal percentage in the game. Pitt out-rebounded USF, 44-38. The Panthers committed 16 turnovers, but turned the ball over just four times in the second half.

Coach Berenato & the Big East Tourney

Pitt head coach Agnus Berenato, in her 10th season at the helm of the Panthers, holds a 6-8 (.429) record in the Big East Tournament.  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 second-seeded Louisville, 69-63 in the semifinal round. That semifinal visit marked the ninth time Pitt had advanced to that round of play.

In 2008, the Panthers reached their first semifinal game under Berenato. Pitt (No. 5 seed) defeated 12-seeded Villanova (69-63) in the first round. The Panthers 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 taken down in program history.

Prior to 2008, Pitt had only advanced past the first Big East tourney game in two of the previous eight postseasons. Under Berenato, Pitt has made it past the first BE tourney game five times.

About the Match-Up With Marquette
Pitt fields a 2-9 all-time record against Marquette. The Golden Eagles are 5-2 against the Panthers in Big East regular season action. Friday's meeting marks the third in Big East Championship play for Pitt and Marquette.   

Nine of the 11 meetings have been decided by 13 points or less, while six of the 11 games have come down to a nine points or fewer decision.  The last Pitt win over Marquette came on Jan. 30, 2009 - an 86-54 Pitt win at the Petersen Events Center.

Scouting Marquette
The Golden Eagles are 15-14 on the season and finished 7-9 in league action.  MU has won three-straight and gone 5-4 in its past nine games. Junior Katherine Plouffe is leading the team in points (13.0 ppg), assists (2.9 apg) and rebounding (7.5 rpg). Her 7.5 boards are ranked fourth in the Big East.  As a team, the squad ranked fifth in the league in field goal percentage (.417), while Plouffe is 10th (.495) individually.

Sophomore guard Arlesia Morse is second on the team in scoring (12.4 ppg) and is pacing the team with 47 3-pointers. As a team, MU is connecting on 4.2 triples a game to opponent's 5.7.

The Golden Eagles field a team of eight underclassmen and just one lone senior. MU has lost several players to injuries this season, including junior point guard Gabi Minix with a torn ACL. Freshman Ashley Santos will redshirt this season after a knee injury put her out of commission.   The Golden Eagles have had at least two players net double figures in 24 of 29 games.

Marquette head coach Terri Mitchell attended and played basketball at Duquesne, where she was a four-year letterwinner and co-captain. She grew up in Harrisburg, Pa.

Earlier Showdown - Jan. 19, 2013/MU 74, Pitt 65
Four players registered double figures, but it was not enough as Pitt dropped a 74-65 decision to Marquette in Big East women's basketball action at the Petersen Events Center on Jan. 19. The Panthers were paced by junior Brianna Kiesel, who pumped in 18 points. Sophomore Cora McManus added 15 points and nine rebounds.  

The game was a battle in the paint with the teams combining for 88 points down low. Pitt had one of its worst efforts on the season from the free throw line, connecting on just 8-of-20 opportunities (16.7 percent).

Tied at 9-9, MU ran off an 11-2 run to take a nine point lead- doing so on another score from Katerine Plouffe - at the 10:39 mark.

After Pitt closed to five points, MU answered basket for basket and used another run to pull to its largest lead of the stanza - 10 points - on three occasions, lastly with 47 seconds left in the period. The Panthers closed to six at the half.  The Golden Eagles jumped out to a 13-point edge twice over the first seven minutes of the second half, moving to the 54-41 edge after a four-footer from Cristina Bigicia.

The Panthers silenced MU, scoring nine of the next 11 points. Marquel Davis had six points and McManus added three over the five-minute span which trimmed the lead to 56-52 with 9:47 remaining.

Marquette built its advantage back to seven on a baseline 3-pointer from Brooklyn Pumroy. Briggs responded with her second old-fashioned three-point play of the afternoon which started an 8-2 run to close the gap even further. A steal from Kiesel and the subsequent layup from Davis pushed the Panthers a point away at 64-63 with 3:50 to play. The Golden Eagles handled the pressure, scoring the next seven as the Panthers hit just one field goal over the final 3:50 of play.

What A Win Means ...
A Pitt win over Marquette would be the ..
• first in Big East play since March 4, 2011 in the Big East Championship in Hartford, Conn. - a 63-60 win over USF.
• the last regular season Big East win came on Feb. 15, 2011 -a 60-57 victory over Providence at the Petersen Events Center.
•  the last road Big East regular season win was at West Virginia on Feb. 5, 2011 (60-53).
The Panthers have lost 36-straight regular season league games and have fallen in 34-straight Big East contests overall (includes tournament which was the last win in Big East play on March 4, 2011).

Still Young
The Panthers fielded the youngest team in Division I in the 2011-12 season - this season Pitt is still one of the youngest teams in the land with no seniors, two redshirt juniors, two juniors, four sophomores (including a walk-on), one redshirt freshman and four freshmen (three playing this season).

Different Five
Only one player has started all 29 games for the Panthers this season- sophomore guard Brianna Kiesel.  Pitt has used nine (9) different starting line-ups in its 29 games.  Nine players in total have gotten at least two starts.

Pitt Women's Basketball Heads to Hartford for Big East Championship

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