PITTSBURGH — Coming into the Pitt women’s basketball season, coach Lance White admitted his team was looking for its identity and after a 66-56 loss Saturday afternoon against Georgetown, it is clear that this remains a work in progress.
“I was disappointed in our team’s ability to handle success and then the consistency,” he said. “Rebounding has to be a big part of that identity. Whenever you don’t rebound the ball, you lose. We’re dealing with a lot of pieces that aren’t a great team yet, we will get there. (I am) disappointed but I want growth in this team and I see growth.”
Indeed Pitt showed plenty of promise in this game, stringing defensive stops with offense that was executed to a high degree, but the inconsistency
“We got a little bit into panic mode,” said White. “Some of that is a new environment and roles. You can’t play panic, especially on offense. You’ve got to play with urgency and I think we play in panic a lot. We’re trying to find what each other brings.”
Given the outcome of this game, White believes Pitt will file this result away and use it as a reference point.
Ultimately this game is going to be analyzed by the fourth quarter, where in a game of runs, Georgetown had the last big one with an 11-0 advantage.
Both teams landed what appeared to be knockout punches in Saturday afternoon’s main event, Pitt just was unable to answer the 10 count.
Graduate student captain Aysia Bugg, who has been through many highs and lows during her time at Pitt, just attributed this run as a lack of focus.
“I thought we came out alright, we had the right mentality,” she said. “It is just maintaining and understanding that it takes maturity to keep that composure.”
The biggest thing Pitt has to contend with is handling the emotional aspect of the game. Physically handling the change in speeds is one thing, but doing the same this mentally is a completely different thing.
Physically it appeared as though Pitt was able to hang in there and in the second quarter were the clear aggressors earning several trips to the free throw line.
In the third quarter, the aggression appeared to go away. With both teams struggling to score in the opening few minutes, the easy answer would have been to get back to the foul line, and that did not happen consistently enough.
Though Pitt held the lead entering the fourth quarter, it appeared that what allowed them to take the lead vanished, which is a sign of youth which will learn as it continues to play in similar situations.
“I think so much of this game is an emotional mentality,” White said. “Physically we are fast, can play longer minutes, all that kind of stuff, but if the emotional part isn’t there, you believe you can’t go. It’s that part we have to grow in the most. That’s for anybody who is coming into new. It’s hard being a college basketball player, we’re not nearly at full capacity and what we have to emotionally bring.”
Though Georgetown made the WNIT quarterfinals a season ago, the Hoyas lost many of their top producers and White believed the two teams were on a similar path, young teams trying to find its way.
Georgetown was far and away the more clinical team recording 20 assists on 26 made shots and recorded nine turnovers. Pitt had nine assists on 19 makes and recorded 11 turnovers. Georgetown also had nine blocks to Pitt’s two.
“They made the extra pass, made us do somethings defensively that hurt us, attacking the middle of our zone,” said White. “We didn’t get nearly as many points off turnovers as we needed.”
From an individual standpoint, freshmen Emy Hayford and Rita Igbokwe had career afternoons.
Hayford set a career high with 13 points. She was able to change the game with her speed and her first quarter hoop-and-harm play appeared to energize Pitt and change the direction of this contest.
Igbokwe was physical and grabbed 11 rebounds in nearly 22 minutes of work, which is incredibly efficient. She provided a needed post presence which was a necessity.
As these two mature and develop throughout their careers, White believes they will be fun to watch.
Freshman Amber Brown recorded her second consecutive double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds and it is clear that will be her role, which she appreciates.
“For me it helps out a lot,” she said. “Coach White already told me with recruiting what my role would be. That was my goal coming in to do that every night.”
Despite these performances, White realizes that while the individual performances are great, the team needs to be able to come together and consistently execute on both sides of the court.
Right now, Pitt is still not a complete team as Kyla Nelson, Cynthia Ezeja and Marcella Lamark remain out though upon their returns it will help take the load off of relying on some many individual performances.
What is clear is that Pitt has increased its talent pool, something which pleases White, but in its current state, there is a video game type of feel with moving players into spots and roles, something he admits provides is a bit of unknown.
As Pitt prepares to take on Farleigh Dickinson Wednesday morning, White does believe his Panthers will work through these mistakes.
“Offensively we are a little stop-and-go but that will come,” said White. “They have to continue to believe and trust. Everything we did today is correctible, it is just developing who we are. We want to fight for every possession, that has to be our major focus.”