PITTSBURGH — Playing its first game in 32 days, the Pitt women’s basketball team had a productive first quarter and led by as many as 23 points, but fell short against Miami by a 72-68 mark Thursday night at the Petersen Events Center.
Jayla Everett led Pitt (3-4, 1-3 ACC) with 13 points. Rita Igbokwe added 12 points, eight rebounds and six blocks. The 12 points was a season best and her six swats tied a career high.
Miami (7-5, 4-5 ACC) was paced by Kelsey Marshall’s 21 points which included five three-point shots. Naomi Mbandu contributed with her 17-point, seven rebound effort. Additionally, Endia Banks had 13 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
Pitt was firing on all cylinders in the first quarter. Igbokwe established an early post presence where she got in positions for catches which allowed for quick scores.
In the quarter, eight Pitt players successfully scored as the team shot 60% from the field. It played off each other and all 10 players who dressed were able to record multiple positive plays on the court.
Miami had troubles sustaining much on the offense as evidenced by a 27.8% shooting clip from the field. Miami had a 4:42 scoreless streak in which Pitt went on a 17-0 run.
Pitt’s 31-10 lead after 10 minutes of play allowed for the Panthers to tie their second-highest point total in a quarter this season.
During the opening 10 minutes, Miami called two timeouts but were not able to successfully adjust until the second quarter.
Considering Pitt had not played in 32 days, it was going to be hard maintaining such a level of play and in the second quarter that proved to be the case.
Miami converted five three-point shots in the second quarter, while Pitt was 0-for-4 from deep and 23.1% overall. Additionally Pitt had seven turnovers in the stanza, all while being outscored 23-6.
Not only was all of Pitt’s advantage from the field quarter gone, but Miami briefly took the lead before Emy Hayford made a floater, giving Pitt a 37-36 halftime edge.
It took all of 12 seconds for Miami to reclaim the lead as Marshall converted a layup.
Miami led by six though Pitt was trying to match the Hurricanes shot for shot. As a loose ball was not pursued by Pitt, Karla Erjavec nailed a three-point shot and then on the next trip down added a layup on a fast break extending Miami’s lead to double digits.
Towards the end of the quarter, Everett converted a jumper and then when Dayshanette Harris pursued a loose ball, her efforts were rewarded, it was Everett on the receiving end. Everett buried a triple and Pitt trailed by five points entering the fourth quarter.
Though Miami led by eight points in the fourth quarter, Pitt battled back when Everett sank a jump shot placing the Panthers within two points.
With Pitt needing to play the foul game still down two, Miami saw a mismatch and went to Banks for a long outlet pass but Harris got a block. The ball went off Banks meaning Pitt had a chance to tie and take the lead.
Following a timeout, Pitt had three looks as Gabbie Green missed a three-point shot, Everett missed a jumper and Liatu King’s two-point effort was off the mark. Miami made two free throws from there to secure the victory. P
Two Pitt players did not dress due to COVID-19 protocols. Pitt will continue ACC play Sunday afternoon when it travels to face Boston College.