For weeks, Lance White knew that his team was on the verge of getting back into the win column. Five straight losses, amplified by how close the Panthers were in most games, did not break Pitt’s focus going forward. That focus was on full display in Tuesday’s win over Boston College.
“This one, I really felt like they knew they could go and compete and knew they could go and win,” said White. “The resilience of them has been really fun to watch and just how they have come back game after game.”
The resilience that Pitt showed was nothing out of the ordinary to White. After a stagnant opening quarter, the third year coach felt that his team left it all on the floor and earned confidence for the future in doing so.
“I really thought from then on, after the first quarter, that we won a lot of the hustle plays,” said White. “I’m really proud of our kids, and, every game, we keep saying that the heartbreakers that led to now, being able to finish a game, hopefully gives us confidence to go into the next one.”
Prior to the win, moving on to the next game has been a tough task for the Panthers. Most games during their five game skid looked ugly on paper, but were actually tightly contested games until Pitt tuckered out in the second half. Close losses didn’t break Pitt or damper their spirits to the point where they lost confidence, as devastating as the winless streak was.
“That’s what’s been the hardest part of all of this,” said White. “I felt that our kids have played extremely hard. They stayed together and, unfortunately, we’ve just come out on the losing end of some really close games in the ACC.”
Jayla Everett was just one of many Panthers that embodied the fighting spirit in the win, scoring 22 points with seven assists. The junior guard thought that the Eagles defense was presenting her with options to both score or make a smooth pass to a teammate.
“I felt like they over helped a lot, so it was a lot of back doors and the little slips were there,” said Everett.
Everett and the Panthers moved the ball well on Tuesday and consistently made the extra pass before putting a shot up. As the team has strung together consistent games and practices for some time now, White sees the growth and realizes his team is close to being completely on the same page.
“Having that short season and going right into ACC play, I think we are just now defining who we are.”
Everett agreed with her coach and feels like the team is making progress from a chemistry standpoint. She knows that the job is not yet complete, though.
“I think we still have some work to do because I feel like we aren’t completely there yet,” said Everett. “I do feel like it’s headed in the right direction.”