PITTSBURGH — The first game, albeit an unofficial one, of the Lance White era at Pitt was a successful one, as the Panthers put away Division-II Gannon, 68-46, in an exhibition at Petersen Events Center on Tuesday night.
Pitt forward Danielle Garven scored 20 points, more than she had at any point in 2017-18. She also had nine rebounds, and White said that level of production is going to be the expectation for the senior, who was part of the starting lineup and played a team-high 33 minutes.
“I was just getting after her before that she was one rebound shy,” White joked. “She’s got to be a double-double player. I was really excited how much energy she played with. That is what she’s been given us every day in practice.”
Garven, who averaged 6.5 points per game and 3.8 rebounds per game a year ago, said she feels more confident than she did last season.
“The confidence that my coach and my teammates have in me is a lot greater than it was last year,” she said. “Miss one shot and they’re always like, ‘you’ve got the next one.’ They’re always on me about keeping my energy up, as well.”
Another big difference in the way the Panthers played was their up-tempo transition game. Pitt scored 32 points off Gannon turnovers, helping push guards Jasmine Whitney (13 points) and Aysia Bugg (11 points) into double figures.
“I think it works in our team’s favor,” Bugg said. “It fits well. We’re an easily adaptable team.”
Bugg said that the added emphasis on running meant extra conditioning for her this offseason, especially considering that she missed all of the 2017-18 season with a knee injury. She said the exhibition helped her “shake the dust off.”
Pitt played 10 players, with Kauai Bradley, Cassidy Walsh and Kalista Walters joining Bugg and Garvin in the starting lineup.
Whitney played 28 minutes off the bench and was joined by forwards Kyla Nelson (18 minutes) and Jaala Henry (16 minutes) and guards Alayna Gribble (15 minutes) and Ismini Prapa (six minutes).
White said that as the season goes on, he’ll probably cut down that rotation, but is going to allow the competition for playing time to continue throughout the season.
It wasn’t all good news for the Panthers. Walters, the team’s leading returning scorer, and Gribble, the team’s most talented 3-point shooter, were both held scoreless.
Pitt shot just 39.1 percent from the floor and 12.5 percent from 3-point range. The Panthers let Gannon hang around in the first quarter before pulling away late in the first half.