Two big runs from Syracuse led to a 23-point victory for the Orange on Thursday against a Pitt team that seemed to have nothing left in the game’s final minutes.
Head coach Lance White emphasized that his team has a lot of room to grow, and that their month-long sabbatical due to the COVID-19 pandemic has impeded their ability to grow.
“You just need practice and you need kids to understand what we are trying to do,” said White. “Without that practice time and prep time, with new players still trying to learn each other, that’s what makes it a little more difficult and challenging.”
Sophomore guard Dayshanette Harris, who led Pitt with 14 points, admitted that the Panthers’ mistakes were what led to the final run that gave Syracuse the victory.
“It wasn’t about what they did, it was about what we did,” said Harris. “We let up.”
Pitt is in a period of transition after their five-win season last year. White is focused on getting his players to compete with a winner’s mentality as their ACC schedule continues to get more challenging in the coming weeks.
“We’re still afraid to go win,” said White. “They are still in that mindset that it’s gonna be easy, and in ACC basketball no game is easy. If you want it, you gotta go make it happen. So that’s what we’ve got to instill in them.”
Harris believes that the team needs to perform better in the latter stages of their games as well.
“We need to finish,” she stated. “We need to finish games.”
Following their victory against Clemson on Monday, a win that provided Pitt with their first ACC sweep of the season, White says that there is a lot his team can look back on and take away from Thursday’s loss.
“This is a huge learning experience for them,” said White. “You battle back and you get so close, and then how does it slip through your fingers?”
White credited the experienced backcourt of Syracuse and the maturity they showed in the game. He added that Harris and fellow guard, Jayla Everett, don’t have that maturity just yet.
“You can’t ever take the place of experience,” said White. “Day and Jay and them don’t have that yet, and can’t make those decisions. Once they become juniors and seniors, then you have the ability to know how to do it.”
Pitt has a week to evaluate and learn from their mistakes against Syracuse, with the team’s next game taking place on Feb 4 against Virginia Tech.