Pitt women’s basketball made a big comeback late in the fourth quarter, but it didn’t come early enough as they fell to George Mason on the road Wednesday afternoon, 60-52.
The Panthers (1-2) lose to the Patriots (4-0) for the first time in the all-time series, as they won the previous three matchups, with the last two coming in 2020 and 2022 at home. It also serves as the first 1-2 start for the Panthers since the 2019-20 season and their first road non-conference loss since a 69-53 loss to Cincinnati on Dec. 21, 2019.
Both teams kept it close through the midway point in the first quarter, but George Mason broke out an 18-14 lead off an 8-4 lead to end the period. Senior guard Taylor Jameson hit two 3-pointers to guide her team to an early advantage.
The Patriots extended their lead towards the end of the first half, outscoring the Panthers, 14-3, in the final six minutes of the second quarter to take a 37-22 lead into halftime. Senior guard Sonia Smith hit three 3-pointers to lead the Patriots and the Panthers shot 3-for-10 from the field, while committing nine turnovers, leading to nine points for the Patriots.
After falling behind by 19 at the beginning of the second half, Pitt went on an 11-0 scoring run to cut the George Mason lead to single digits. Sophomore guard Aislin Malcolm had five points on the run for Pitt, with a 3-pointer and a mid-range jumper. George Mason would score two buckets, but Pitt would cut it to 10 points at the end of the third quarter.
The Panthers continued to slim the deficit with three straight baskets to start the fourth quarter, getting within four points at 46-42. The Patriots would use an 11-2 scoring run themselves to break out to a 57-44 lead with four and half minutes left in the game, but the Panthers didn’t give up.
Pitt would score eight unanswered points to bring the George Mason lead back to five points at 57-52 with a minute remaining. First-year guard Aaryn Battle had a chance to make it a one-possession game, but she missed her 3-pointer, allowing George Mason to make some free throws and come out as victors.
Malcolm, a Chartiers Valley alum, had her best game as a Panther, as she scored a career high 18 points on 8-for-15 shooting from the floor. Battle also saw her minutes increase and used them wisely, scoring 10 points on 5-for-9 shooting, and fellow first-year guard Jasmine Timmerson, a North Allegheny alum, played in her first game of the season, leading Pitt along with Malcolm with three assists in the loss.
Senior forward Liatu King had her third-straight double-double, with 10 points and 14 rebounds, including a team-high seven offensive rebounds. Junior forward Rapuluchi Ayodele tied King with 14 rebounds, while also scoring eight points.
Panthers guards in junior and USC transfer Bella Perkins, along with sophomore Marley Washentiz both struggled in the loss to the Patriots. Perkins shot 1-for-10 from the field and 0-for-6 from 3-point range, while Washenitz turned the ball over five times, committed three fouls and scored one point in just 10 minutes of game time.
Pitt, once again, struggled with turnovers, committing 20 in the loss to George Mason. This makes it back-t0-back games with 20 or more turnovers for Pitt, as they committed 28 against rival West Virginia in the Backyard Brawl last Saturday.
Pitt women’s basketball come back to Pittsburgh, but stay on the road, with a visit to rival Duquesne at UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse this Saturday at 2 p.m. in the annual City Game.