Pitt’s final game at the Petersen Events Center for the 2020-21 season ended with a 59-48 loss to Notre Dame, in large part due to a poor shooting performance in the game’s first three quarters.
The Panthers (5-11, 3-10 ACC) shot 32.8% from the field in the loss, with an equally rough 3 of 15 mark from the free throw line. Jayla Everett led Pitt with 10 points and was the only Pitt player out of the ten Panthers that scored to reach double figures.
Notre Dame (9-8, 7-6 ACC) shot 37.3% on the night and won the advantage in the paint by outscoring Pitt by six down low. Maddy Westbeld was a significant reason for the advantage in the paint for the Fighting Irish, and led all scorers with 20 points. Olivia Miles and Dara Mabrey added 10 points each.
Carrying over from last Thursday’s game against Louisville, turnovers remained a constant problem for Pitt on Monday night. Junior guard Jayla Everett was especially hindered by the turnover bug, committing six in the first half. Notre Dame took full advantage of the offensive miscues, scoring seven of their 13 points off of the handouts.
Other problems continued for Pitt on the offensive side, as the Panthers shot just 2 of 10 from 3-point range in the half. Notre Dame was unable to get much cooking on offense, outside of Westbeld’s efforts, unless Pitt coughed up the ball for them, which led to a slim 13-9 lead for the Fighting Irish after one quarter of action.
Senior Gabbie Green’s departure due to injury proved to be Pitt’s biggest problem of the first quarter, especially with fellow guard Dayshanette Harris already out for the Panthers with an injury suffered against Louisville on Thursday.
Things went from bad to worse as Notre Dame stretched its lead to 10 after another Everett turnover. Lance White had seen enough at this point, and Pitt switched its own defensive scheme to a full court press. The call almost paid off right away, when Notre Dame immediately turned the ball over on a wayward pass. Pitt was unable to score following the change of possession and couldn’t cause much commotion with the press for the remainder of the half.
A Cynthia Ezeja layup brought Pitt within just two possessions, but Notre Dame struck back immediately by closing the half on a 5-0 run.
After the opening half, Pitt’s number left a lot to be desired on the offensive end. White’s team was shooting 31% from the field, 20% from behind the arc and missed all six of its free throw attempts.
The agony resumed on offense when the game resumed. The Panthers worked the ball around well on their opening possession, but missed a great look. On the ensuing possession two good looks clanked off of the rim before yet another turnover led to a Notre Dame layup.
Tracey Hueston powered home a layup that led to an and-one opportunity, but the tides did not turn at the charity stripe for Pitt during the second half, going 3 of 9 in the game’s final 20 minutes. The third quarter was played fairly level, even with the poor shooting performance for the Panthers, and they remained in striking distance after three.
Notre Dame quickly added to its lead by going on a 5-0 run to start the final quarter, which was sparked by a Mabrey three. Pitt began riding the three ball after Destiny Strother made back-to-back threes to start an 8-0 run. That run, however, proved to be too little, too late, and Notre Dame soon regained control and walked out of downtown Pittsburgh with their record back over .500.
Pitt will conclude its regular season on the road with games against North Carolina State and Georgia Tech. The NC State game will take place on Thursday at 4 p.m.