PITTSBURGH — Pitt looked to get their first ACC win of the season against another winless conference opponent in Miami on Sunday at the Petersen Events Center. Pitt came close, but Miami had just enough to hold on for a 74-67 win.
The Panthers’ (7-7 overall, 0-3 ACC) loss is their ninth straight to the Hurricanes (8-6 overall, 1-2 ACC) in the series, dating back to 2016. It is also their 13th straight conference game dating back to January 2022, demonstrating their struggles in the ACC. This is also the seventh loss in the last nine games for the Panthers, who started the season 5-0.
White praised his team’s tenacity and hard work throughout the game in spite of the defeat. He said that compared to the past two ACC losses against Louisville and most recently against Wake Forest, this is a team that played without fear and gave it their all throughout the 40 minutes.
“If we can play that hard and that aggressive, we have a really good basketball team,” White said. “That’s the team I want to fight and play and go to war with.”
Pitt shot poorly in the first quarter, 3-for-14, compared to Miami, who made nine of their 16 field goal attempts. Pitt used six free throws to keep them within seven points, 21-14 at the end of the period.
The Panthers then played some of the best basketball in quite some time to start the second quarter, going on a 13-5 run to take a 27-26 at the media timeout. The Hurricanes regained the lead at halftime, 36-32, after some poor shooting by the Panthers down the stretch.
Miami continued to hold their lead throughout the third quarter, building a nine-point lead with less than two minutes left, forcing a timeout from White. Pitt outscored Miami 6-2 to end the period, cutting the Miami advantage to 53-48.
The Hurricanes essentially sealed the game early on in the fourth quarter with a 9-3 run in the first three minutes. The Panthers battled the Hurricanes and made some great defensive plays to stay in it, but it wasn’t enough as they ended with a seven-point loss.
Pitt turned it over 20 times against Miami, tied for the most in a game this season. Amazingly, Miami turned it over more than Pitt did, with 24 turnovers of their own, the most for a Pitt opponent this season. Pitt forced 12 steals, the third most this season and scored 17 points off them.
The Hurricanes exploited the Panthers’ lack of height in the win. They grabbed 14 offensive rebounds and scored 17 second chance points. 6-foot-4 senior forward Lola Pendande scored 18 points and made seven of her 10 shots from the floor.
“We’ve got to be a scrappy team,” White said on the height disadvantage Pitt faces against ACC opponents. “We’re going to be undersized all year long and again it will take five of us on the glass. We were playing zone most of the game. We had one-one or two-on-one on the backside that we have to go get another player down there, scrap it out and really fight for that.”
Pitt also struggled to contain Miami senior guard Haley Cavinder. The Fresno State transfer scored a team-high 21 points and shot 5-for-11 from 3-point range. She also led Miami with nine rebounds, four of which were on offense.
Some of the positives for the Panthers included sophomore forward Maliyah Johnson scoring 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting and three 3-pointers. Senior guard Dayshanette Harris scored 10 points, forced a team high three steals and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds, tied with junior forward Liatu King.
Senior forward Amber Brown also played a great game for the Panthers, scoring 19 points and making five of her seven foul shots. She managed to drive through the lane and score some baskets, while also providing great defense, tying with Harris with three steals against the Hurricanes.
“I think the change was our mentality,” Brown said on the improved performance by the Panthers. “I think the first two conference games, we were afraid to make a mistake. I don’t think it was so much the competition, I think we were just afraid to mess each other up. I think we just played freely today and we had a better mentality.”
Pitt goes back on the road for their next matchup against rival Syracuse on Thursday, Jan. 5 at 6 p.m.