PITTSBURGH– It was not hard for Pitt women’s basketball associate head Coach Terri Mitchell to show her approval as the team’s defense pressured George Mason into a 10-second violation,
The Pitt women’s basketball team showed its commitment to the defensive side of the basketball, holding George Mason scoreless for 13:04 of first-half action leading to a 72-57 victory.
“I think we had some really good moments and were able to see our kids in action,” Pitt coach Lance White said. “Some of it was first-time jitters. When you send a team to the line 39 times and we had 33 fouls, we were trying to press and do a bit too much. The turnovers was just us needing to slow down and be composed. Overall I was really pleased.”
Prior to the season, White credited Mitchell for helping to install simple defensive principles and Pitt was able to showcase that holding George Mason to a 20% shooting clip, aided by a 26-9 fourth quarter advantage.
Junior transfer guard Jayla Everett paced Pitt (1-0) with 18 points which included a four-of-seven shooting mark on her three-point shots.
“It was a great feeling for me,” she said. “I was really nervous going out there after sitting out a year. I feel like coming in and being out a year you never know what to expect. My teammates and coaches put a lot of trust in me to even go out there and play the game I love to play and let me do my thing.”
Sophomore guard Dashanette Harris Harris totaled 11 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Freshman Taisha Exanor recorded 11 points and fellow freshman Liatu King also contributed with eight points and seven rebounds. 10 of 12 Pitt players scored in this game and 11 grabbed at least one rebound.
— Pitt Basketball (@Pitt_WBB) November 25, 2020
George Mason (0-1) was led by graduate student forward Daijah Jefferson who scored 17 points on 5-of-15 shooting.
In this contest Pitt enjoyed advantages in rebounds (53-43), bench points (30-15), points in the paint (38-14), fastbreak points (18-8) and assists (16-6).
Pitt scored the opening six points of the game and though George Mason was able to respond as Jefferson scored five points. What followed was a scoreless stretch as both teams could not get shots to fall on the offensive end.
Heading into the first-quarter media timeout, Everett made a three which seemed to steady Pitt as it finished the quarter up nine points and George Mason was forced into offensive mistakes and rushed shot selections.
Pitt grew its advantage in the second quarter using a similar recipe as Everett drilled a jumper and after Harris also made a two-point shot, a frustrated George Mason called a timeout.
The short break did not help George Mason’s cause as Pitt continued to create defensive pressure. When Patriots guard Marika Korpinen did score, over 13 minutes of game action had elapsed.
Though George Mason was able to string together baskets prior to halftime, Pitt was able to stretch its lead to 18 points at halftime.
“We were good communicating in the first half and Jayla is always on us,” Pitt freshman guard Liatu King said. “I thought we died down a bit in the second half and started playing to our competition.”
— Pitt Basketball (@Pitt_WBB) November 25, 2020
The third quarter marked another quick start for Pitt as once again Harris and Everett led the attack. A 26-point third quarter was also emphasized by George Mason shooting 1-for-11 from the field allowing Pitt to comfortably pull ahead by 32 points.
Assessing the fourth quarter, White said perhaps Pitt was trying to go for the big play and took too many chances, though George Mason was also credited for its ability to make shots.
“We put a product out there where you can see where it is going and in front of the lights,” said White. “The second and third quarters you saw glimpses of the way we want to play. In the fourth quarter it was too much high risk, high reward which breaks the momentum and speed. They went to the zone and caused us to get back on our heels.”
Pitt will next compete in the second of its three non-conference games when it tips off Sunday at 2 p.m. against Hofstra. White will have the opportunity to coach against Danielle Santos Atkinson who was Pitt’s Associate Head Coach during the former’s first season leading the Panthers.
THEY SAID IT
“A couple of weeks ago, to a month ago, to two months ago, I really didn’t believe this day would happen. To see it, play against somebody else and for our kids to go out and compete, I’m so excited. I am thankful to all of the people that made today happen… Overall I felt safe and once we got out there and started playing, it was all basketball.” – Lance White
“I see us being a problem on defense. Once everyone figures out the right rotations and is confident in themselves, we all can come together. It is still about trusting each other, so when we learn we have each other’s backs, we’ll be fine.” – Jayla Everett
“I finally get to show people who I am. It all feels good. As a freshman, no one really knows who I am, so coming out there and putting out a statement, that’s enough right there.” – Liatu King