Though it led by as many as 20 points, the Pitt Women’s Basketball Team held on to secure victory against a shorthanded Lafayette squad 72-63 Friday night, improving to 2-0 on the season.
Rita Igbokwe led all scorers with a career-high 23 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, good for her third career double-double. Igbokwe shot 11-of-15 from the field and added four blocks to her final line.
Jayla Everett scored 15 of her 20 points in the first half, shooting 9-for-17 from the floor. Amber Brown also grabbed 10 rebounds.
Pitt outrebounded Lafayette 48-36 and each player grabbed at least one rebound for the second consecutive contest. The Panthers were also victorious in the paint 46-24.
Lafayette played this game with eight players and were led by Claire Gallagher’s 19 points, 17 of which were in the second half. Gallagher was also 5-for-6 on her three-point shots. Makayla Andrews added 17 points, and Abby Antognoli 13 points.
Following Wednesday’s season-opening win against Radford, Pitt coach Lance White explained that part of being his top scoring option, that Everett would have to put up 15-20 shots a game and early on was aggressive in that mission, firing seven shots and making four.
Pitt used a 9-2 first-quarter run to create separation.
The first two baskets were scored off Lafayette turnovers as Everett went off to the races for a layup and then Taisha Exanor grabbed a rebound and converted a layup of her own on the second-chance opportunity.
Igbokwe added a third layup to the run, which concluded with a Destiny Strother three-point basket.
Pitt and Lafayette both shot 33.3% in the first quarter, with the Panthers leading 17-11 following 10 minutes of play.
The momentum carried into the second quarter, as Pitt opened on a 12-0 run.
Lafayette continued turning the ball over and allowed the game to affect them as Naomi Ganpo was assessed a technical foul.
It was during this time that Igbokwe started to find her game, finding positioning in the post and on the defensive end, making an emphatic block on a Lafayette player.
Pitt would lead by as many as 20 points in the period, but Lafayette scored nine of the last 11 points of the half, as both teams went to the locker room separated by 13 points.
It was another strong start to the third quarter as Pitt found the extra pass, opening on a 9-2 run, but that momentum would not last.
Andrews went on a run of her own scoring seven points and then Antognoli added two three-point baskets of her own as Lafayette cut its disadvantage to seven points.
Towards the end of the quarter Gallagher sank a three-point basket, meaning Pitt would head into the final stanza up five points.
Pitt had another strong start to the fourth quarter, opening up on an 8-3 run, but Lafayette responded with an 8-2 barrage of its own as the teams were separated by four points heading into the final media timeout.
Gallagher came out of the media timeout sinking another three-point shot cutting the deficit to one point, and Antognoli had a missed layup which would have given Lafayette its first lead of the evening.
After trading baskets, Amber Brown grabbed a second-chance rebound, took a dribble, and converted a layup.
Inside of a minute, the ball found Everett’s hands and she did not miss the mid-range two. Lafayette was held scoreless in the final 2:03 of game action.
Pitt concludes its three-game homestand Wednesday against LIU, a contest which will tipoff at 6 p.m.