PITTSBURGH — Lance White might want to get a recording of his halftime speech from Monday night.
The Pitt women’s basketball coach went into the mid-game break with his Panthers trailing Central Connecticut State — picked to finish No. 8 in the Northeastern Conference — by 17 points at the break.
His message certainly landed.
The Panthers poured on a 12-2 run early in the third quarter and kept it rolling, outscoring the Blue Devils 25 points in the second half to escape with an 81-73 victory.
“Whenever you’re dealing with a young basketball team, you’re constantly getting them to grow up,” White said. “You have to focus and do your job. For us, we don’t know how to handle a lot of those emotions yet and handle a team that you should be able to play with.”
Pitt got things started with a renewed attention level to the defensive side of the court. After CCSU shot 58.1% from the floor in the first half, the Panthers held the Blue Devils to 4 of 16 shooting as they made their run in the third quarter.
It wasn’t just shooting defense, either. Pitt forced 13 second-half turnovers, which the Panthers turned into 24 points off turnovers — 19 of them on fast breaks led by first-year point guard Dayshanette Harris and company.
“My teammates ran the floor, so I looked for the open man and they succeeded,” Harris said.
Offensively, Aysia Bugg led the charge for the Panthers, pouring in 6 of 12 from 3-point range to score a career-high 26 points. Harris added 11 points while rookie wing Amber Brown had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
After working primarily as a ball-handling guard in her last few seasons, Bugg has transitioned to more of a shooting guard to make way for Harris, and she spent her offseason tailoring her game to better fit her new role.
“That was the focus for me this year, with a great point guard like [Harris], who can draw so many, I knew I would have to really work on that part of my game,” Bugg said.
The Panthers improved to 1-1 on the season after suffering a season-opening loss at UCF. They’ll host Georgetown on Saturday.