PITTSBURGH — Since Lance White took over the Pitt women’s basketball team this summer, he’s been preaching a fourth quarter mentality to his players.
Preaching an up-tempo style and frequently playing four guards, White wants Pitt to run, run, run, and he knows that’s going to create some tired legs by the end of games, hence his focus on the final period.
In White’s head coaching debut on Wednesday at Petersen Events Center, it was that fourth quarter that let the Panthers down.
Pitt took a six-point lead into the final frame against UCF, but shot 28.6 percent from the floor in the fourth quarter and 1 for 5 from 3-point range, including Aysia Bugg’s buzzer-beater attempt as the Panthers lost, 61-58.
White was pleased with his team’s effort overall, but said there are things in the late-game part of the fourth quarter that he’d like to see go better for his team in the future.
“I’ve always believed that players make plays,” White said. “It doesn’t matter what the situation. … You’ve got to have players that have the confidence in their games and their abilities.”
Pitt was led offensively by Bugg, who had 14 points and Cassidy Walsh, who shot 3 of 5 from 3-point range as part of her 11 points. Jasmine Whitney had six assists and Kyla Nelson had six rebounds.
Pitt shot 40 percent from the floor and 41.2 percent from 3-point range. UCF shot 40.4 percent from the floor and 29.4 precent from 3-point range. Each team had 12 offensive rebounds.
The difference in the game came down to the possessions that UCF was able to get thanks to Pitt’s 20 turnovers.
“You look at the 26 points off turnovers, meaning that the turnovers we took were in bad positions,” White said. “Whenever you have one that are live balls that can go the other direction, that’s when it really doesn’t allow you to set your defense. That, I think, caused us the most problems. You take even half of those away, and it’s a completely different ballgame.”
Bugg said the UCF press played a factor, and more importantly, the frenetic pace of the game, with Pitt running and UCF pressing, caused some fatigue that led to poor decisions.
“I think fatigue became a factor,” Bugg said. “We didn’t have much trouble with it in the first quarter, but mentally, you start getting a little fatigued, your body gets fatigued, you start doing careless things.”
The game was played in front of 8,357, aided by buses full of elementary school kids for Pitt’s annual school day game. The kids seemed to get into the close game late, and certainly added an environment that wouldn’t have otherwise existed.
“What a great atmosphere,” White said. “That’s such an atmosphere for our players and the other team’s players, which was really, really fun to get to experience that.”
Pitt will host New Orleans on Friday at 4 p.m. in a doubleheader with the men’s basketball team, which plays at 7 p.m.