Pitt’s attempt to put together a winning streak for the first time since their first two games of the season proved to be unsuccessful, as Syracuse utilized big runs at the beginning and end of the game to walk away with an 80-57 victory.
The Panthers (4-5, 2-4 ACC) were led by Dayshanette Harris, who had 14 points in the losing effort. Jayla Everett continued to struggle, scoring just four points while going missing all eight three pointer attempts.
Syracuse (8-3, 5-3 ACC) forward Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi led the Orange with 17 points. Four other players reached double-digits on the stat sheet, including the team’s leading scorer Kiara Lewis, who had 12.
Syracuse dictated the pace of the game early on when freshman guard Priscilla Williams made a quick layup. Williams made one from three point range as well before Kiara Lewis, the team’s leading scorer, and Tina Mangakahia added triples of their own.
The hot start from behind the arc was crucial for the Orange, who shot just 15% and 25% from deep in their previous two games.
The 11-0 run from Syracuse, combined with their full court press, overwhelmed Pitt at the start and forced them into taking some bad shots.
After finally getting on the board, the Panthers still couldn’t string anything together. Junior guard Jayla Everett, who was shooting nearly 90% from the charity stripe, missed all three shots from the line after getting fouled on a corner three attempt, squandering a chance at giving Pitt a little spark on offense.
Despite having to keep an up-tempo pace, Pitt’s guards began navigating through the pressure from the Orange defense. This led to some solid looks inside for Rita Igbokwe and Amber Brown.
Syracuse thwarted the early comeback efforts from Pitt, shooting nearly 60% in the first quarter and taking a 26-15 lead into the second quarter.
Long scoring droughts from both sides contributed to a rather uneventful second quarter. At the halfway point, there had been just eight combined points scored.
Pitt’s Destiny Storther, coming off a career-high 15-point performance against Clemson, hit a three that injected some life back into the contest. Taleah Washington responded with a three of her own on the other end, stuffing another potential Pitt run in its tracks.
The Orange rode a 50% performance from the floor to a 41-26 halftime lead. Pitt shot just 32% and just 36% from the free throw line.
Pitt’s success in the paint was duplicated by Syracuse, who outscored the Panthers 18-16 down low in the opening 20 minutes.
Harris lit a fire under the Panthers to begin the half. Her six points to begin the second half forced Syracuse into an early timeout. This helped guide the blue and gold to a 10-1 run that dated back to the previous half.
Syracuse held a lead that hung around 10 points for most of the quarter, but Pitt continued to play as if they had a new lease on life.
The always vocal Pitt bench really came to life after a pair of made free throws from Igbokwe cut the gap to eight. Harris and Strother then hit shots that were thought to have helped close in on Cuse, but the Orange offense mimicked the Pitt offense by answering on the offensive end.
Harris and Brown scored the first six points of the final quarter to bring Pitt within one possession. Syracuse responded by going on a crucial 7-0 run that put pressure back on the Panthers.
An Everett jumper a few minutes later made the Syracuse lead just five points. This was as close as things would get for the remainder of the game.
A jumper from Kamulla Cardoso started a 17-0 run for the Orange that made the possibility of a Pitt comeback from moments before sound preposterous.
After trailing by three points at one point in the final quarter, Syracuse left no doubt with the late run, leading to 80-57 final.
Pitt returns on Feb 4 against Virginia Tech in the first of two straight home games.