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Pitt Women's Basketball

Pitt Comes Up Just Short Against No. 12 Virginia Tech, 69-62, to Fall to the Bottom of the ACC

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PITTSBURGH — Pitt took on their first ranked opponent this season in No. 12 Virginia Tech Thursday night at the Petersen Events Center. Despite keeping Virginia Tech close most of the game, they never managed to take the lead and lost 69-62.

The loss for the Panthers (7-11 overall, 0-7 ACC) is their seventh straight overall and their seventh straight to the Hokies (15-3 overall, 5-3 ACC). This loss for the Panthers is also their 17th consecutive ACC loss dating back to Jan. 27, 2022 and their 46th consecutive loss to a ranked opponent dating back to 2015.

Panthers head coach Lance White said that his team executed the game plan against a top team and that there were a few plays that didn’t go their way that ended up making all the difference.

“I was really proud of our team and just how hard they came and competed against the No. 12 team in the country,” White said. “Made tons of huge plays to put ourselves in a position to be there in the fourth quarter and you just hurt. You put in blood, sweat, tears, every part of it to win games and it just hasn’t happened yet.”

Pitt played a solid first half, as Virginia Tech led only by two points, 34-32, at the end. Pitt focused on using a zone that forced tough shots inside, with the team making six blocks, three coming from junior forward Gabby Hutcherson.

The Panthers utilized redshirt junior forward Cynthia Ezeja, who is the tallest player on the team at 6-foot-2, to defend inside. Ezeja, playing in just her fifth game of the season, came up against ACC preseason player of the year in Hokies senior center Elizabeth Kitley and preseason All-ACC graduate forward Taylor Soule.

Both players scored in double-digits in the first half, but Pitt held them to only four points combined in the second half.

Ezeja played 13 minutes against Virginia Tech, more minutes than any in the first four games of the season combined. She finished with five points and three rebounds off the bench.

“Cynthia, who hasn’t played much all year, came in and gave us huge minutes and a huge spark,” White said. “She can bang with anybody and I thought she was a real difference that gave them a different look.”

The Hokies struggled to get scoring from their guards and it stifled their offense in the first half. They chose to go through them more in the second half and it worked much better, leading to more successful offensive outings.

Virginia Tech junior guard Georgia Amoore, who only had five points in the first half, led her team with 16 points in the second half, making four 3-pointers. Senior guard Kayana Taylor, who had 0 points in the first half, scored 13 points in the second half, with six points coming from the foul line.

Amoore and Taylor combined to score 29 of the Hokies 35 points in the second half, keeping them ahead of the Panthers for the rest of the game.

Courtesy Pitt Women’s basketball

Pitt relied on players driving to the basket to score points, which did well to some extent, but prevented them from building a solid run that might’ve got them the lead. They had only six assists in the loss to Virginia Tech, the least in a game this season, but also only 11 turnovers, tied for the least in a game this season as well.

Senior forward Amber Brown led Pitt with 17 points and eight rebounds in the defeat. She has scored in double digits for her seventh straight game and those eight rebounds she grabbed ties the second most in a game this season.

Brown also led a strong free throw showing for the Panthers, as she made nine of her 10 attempts, and the Panthers shot 17-for-20 from the line.

Sophomore forward Maliyah Johnson finished second for the Panthers with 13 points, making it her third game in the past five that she scored in double digits.

Pitt travels to take on Florida State on Sunday, Jan. 22 and will look to earn their first ACC win of the season. Brown said that the team is improving constantly and that they are close to breaking through this season.

“For everybody to show up,” Brown said on what the team needs to do to win a conference matchup. “Just keep showing up. It’s a process, that’s what the coaches keep telling us. If we keep showing up and we keep working hard, we’re going to steal one of these on the road. We’re gonna get us a couple of wins, as long as we keep doing it. More than a couple if we stay with the process.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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