PITTSBURGH — It was a tale of two halves Sunday afternoon, but the Pitt Women’s Basketball Team departed the Petersen Events Center as winners of a 71-58 contest against Hofstra.
“I still think we’re an immature basketball team that’s growing and learning,” Pitt coach Lance White said. “We are still trying to find combinations that make us look good. We are excited to see growth and different kids stepping up. I was disappointed with how we came out in the second half. In that second half I don’t think we competed and that for me is not good. We have to learn from that. We won’t win many games in the ACC with that type of effort down the stretch.”
Once again Pitt (2-0) was led in scoring by junior guard Jayla Everett who posted a game-high 23 points and was a perfect 10-for-10 at the free-throw line. Sophomore guard Dayshanette Harris added a final line of 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
Hofstra (1-1) had three players achieve double-figure point totals led by Rosalee Nicholson’s 17 points and Jaylen Hines chipped in with 14 points. Junior transfer guard Jahsyni Knight scored 11 points and grabbed nine rebounds against her former team.
Knight is one of two former Pitt players on Hofstra’s team as Jaala Henry also once was on the team. Additionally, the Pride’s coach is Danielle Santos Atkinson who was part of White’s staff when he was first hired by Pitt.
Pitt has finals throughout the week and next plays Sunday at 6 p.m. against Delaware in the team’s non-conference finale.
“This is the time where we are going to focus on us,” Everett said. “This is not a time where we will do scout, it will be on us and what we can work on.”
. White was quick to mention his disappointment in Pitt conceding 18 offensive rebounds to Hofstra, 11 of which came in the second half. He specifically stated that his team “stood and watched” referencing the rebounds, which certainly helped Hofstra’s case in making its comeback.
“You can’t simulate it that much in practice but now when you talk about it, you can go back and watch film,” he said. “We’re trying to gain confidence in our team with what it can do. Now it is who will take ownership of the team and we’re still trying to figure that out a bit. It really is nice we can do it right now versus after Dec. 10 when we start ACC play.”
Shortly after the game, Harris admitted that the second half is more of a takeaway.
It was clear that Pitt was eager to improve in rebounding and got off to a fast start shooting 48.3% from the floor and 60% on its three-point shots.
“It tells us to stick with what we know,” said Harris. “In the second half I feel that we got away from the things we were doing good in the first half. Don’t get tired of doing what’s right.”
All three were unanimous in the feeling that that the energy from the first half disappeared.
White believed it came down to worrying about oneself versus focusing on the team aspect and getting that piece more refined as the season continues.
Everett opined that Pitt needed to be mentally tougher in order to close to game.
“It was more mental,” she stated. “I feel like we got hit with a little adversity and we didn’t know how to flip the switch.”
. In these opening two games, Everett has certainly helped this Pitt team go, but the contributions from top on down have been widespread. Sunday, both freshman Sandrine Clesca and sophomore transfer Destiny Strother were able to step up.
Clesca was able to score her first collegiate points and then from there became hungry for more success. White stated that she is a natural guard while others on the team have had to learn in that role. Though she is on the scout team for much of practice, he sees growth which will make her an asset as the season continues and can help Harris and Emy Hayford among others play in more natural positions.
Strother was able to make both of her three-point baskets in the first half and gave Pitt a boost. White believes if that shot continues to fall with regularity then it can add a strong punch to Pitt’s outside game.
Concerning Pitt’s depth, Everett’s could not say enough.
“I love it because a lot of freshmen I have played with in the past put their heads down when they aren’t getting minutes,” she said. “Seeing this group of freshmen just come in and capitalize and make a positive impact, that’s amazing. That can go deep into the season. They may not realize it, but when you have a bench that can come in and also help you play, you can let your starters rest and trust that next group of people to come in.”
THEY SAID IT
“I feel like a lot of people were pumped up because a lot of transfers from here, went over there. Coming in the people who went there don’t know me and I don’t know them so I was able to play and play off everyone else because their momentum got me going.” – Jayla Everett
“We have playmakers, so it all depends on them. If they’re knocking down shots, then I’m able to rack up assists and if they’re able to take good shots, then I’m able to get around the rim and rebound the ball. It focuses on my teammates.” – Dayshanette Harris
Photo credit: Pitt Athletics