Pitt women’s basketball dropped its contest against No. 3 Louisville 82-58 at the Petersen Events Center on Thursday. Three days after the women’s basketball selection committee tagged Louisville as a No. 1 seed in its preliminary tournament bracket, the Cardinals showed why.
Early on, the Cardinals (20-1, 13-1 ACC) played up to their ranking, holding the Panthers (5-10, 3-9 ACC) to only nine points in the first quarter. Louisville’s defense caused seven turnovers, with Pitt shooting a ghastly 4-21 from the field. The Panthers’ defense couldn’t match Louisville, but they only allowed three offensive rebounds and held the Cardinals without a three in the first frame. Despite the poor offensive output, the Panthers only trailed by eight, 17-9.
But the Panthers lost a key piece in the first quarter, when sophomore guard Dayshanette Harris went down with an apparent knee injury. She would come out the game with two points on only one field goal. Pitt head coach Lance White said her specific injury is currently unknown.
“Losing her really threw us out of sync a little bit,” White said. “It limits our offensive firepower a little bit, but we have the day off tomorrow so she’ll get checked out.”
The second quarter treated the Panthers much better, scoring 18 points, double what they put up in the first. Senior guard Gabbie Green hit three shots from deep, with one coming late in the quarter that tied the game. Green added a steal in the quarter to go with her 11 points. She would finish the night with 20.
Green knew that her strong offensive performance helped lift the team up during a tough game.
“I think it did give us a spark, it got us going,” Green said. “We were more talkative on the bench, and it also translated into our defense when we tried to stop the ball and go with our game plan.”
The half ended with Louisville leading 33-27, after the Cardinals scored six straight points to finish the quarter.
The visitors carried that momentum with them into the third quarter, where they scored 28 points and finished leading 61-40. The Panthers did not let Louisville get many second-chance opportunities, but the Cardinals turned 14 offensive rebounds into 14 points. Pitt couldn’t produce the same numbers, but not for lack of trying. It grabbed 21 offensive boards, but only converted that into eight points.
The Panthers’ first half was doomed by a subpar 25% shooting percentage, and most of the shots came after offensive rebounds. White stressed the importance of Pitt’s converting those opportunities in the future.
“When you play great teams, everything has to go perfect,” White said. “I mean we got 21 [offensive] boards and only eight second-chance points, these are things you have to do against really good teams.”
Senior guard Dana Evans elevated Louisville’s sudden push. She scored a game-high 29 points, while also tacking on two assists, helping turn a tie game into a 21-point lead for the Cardinals. White praised the opposing point guard’s reliability.
“Dana Evans is a senior and one of the best players in our league,” White said. “Her consistency is something we talked about; whenever they need a bucket or things get close, she’s going to make the play for her basketball team.”
The final quarter was the least eventful. The two sides played it close, with Louisville outscoring Pitt 21-18. But nothing seemed to close that gap for the Panthers, even with multiple 3-pointers from junior guard Jayla Everett.
With the loss to the Cardinals marking their sixth loss in the last seven games, the Panthers haven’t found their footing at home since beating Clemson on Dec. 13. Pitt has played five games at the Pete since coming back from their COVID-related hiatus and has lost all five of them.
Pitt has one more home game on their schedule, currently set for Monday night at 8 p.m. against Notre Dame, and White emphasized the importance of an improved performance in the home finale.
“We just have to play well,” White said. “We talk about growth all the time, we have to keep growing and keep getting better.
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