Seniors begin final run at NCAA Tournament
SEATTLE — For Pitt’s Shavonte Zellous and Xenia Stewart, Saturday’s game marked the beginning of the end.
Both seniors said going into the game that it definitely felt different knowing that this would be their last NCAA Tournament. They were also determined to make the run last as long as possible.
“It is our last, and in the NCAA you’re one and done,” Zellous said. “That’s not what we’re trying to do. We want to take possession of it and just go out and play hard.”
Stewart and Zellous have combined as the most successful senior class the school has ever had, with a 93-38 record and a winning percentage of 71 percent. Going into last night’s game, they had totaled 3,483 points.
The Pitt women were in the Spokane Region last year during the Tournament, advancing to the Sweet Sixteen, where they lost to No. 2 seed Stanford. Coach Agnus Berenato said that they are a very different team this time around.
“Obviously we lost our point guard Mallorie Winn and we lost Marcedes Walker, who was our anchor in the paint,” Berenato said. “But we think we’ve really improved as a team and we think we have a whole different game as a team.
“We have phenomenal chemistry. We have a great inside-outside game, we have a great perimeter game, we have a great transition game and the best part is we really feel like we play some good defense. We feel like we’ve really improved that part of our game.”
Not on the list
Zellous did not make the list of four finalists for the Naismith Trophy for the women’s college player of the year despite being included among the 30 candidates at midseason.
The four finalists announced for the award yesterday were Louisville’s Angel McCoughtry, Connecticut’s Maya Moore and Renee Montgomery, and Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris.
Zellous is considered a WNBA prospect, and her name has been tossed around as a possible draft choice for the Seattle Storm. She grinned when asked if the first two games of the tournament might be an audition for her professional career.
“To be honest I haven’t really though about the WNBA or who would draft me,” Zellous said. “I’m just focused on leading my team to victory in the NCAA Tournament.”
Pitt will host first- and second-round games of the NCAA Tournament in 2010. Petersen Events Center was the site of one of the region’s opening-round games in 2007.
Karen Price is a former freelancer.