Pitt women set tone early in 85-64 rout of Michigan
It wasn’t as though the Pitt women knocked off Connecticut or Notre Dame, but Thursday night’s 85-64 victory over Michigan at Petersen Events Center was an important one for the Suzie McConnell-Serio era.
This wasn’t a mid-major team that the Panthers dominated from start to finish, or even a struggling ACC team.
This was Michigan (2-1), with four starters back from a team that went 20-14 overall last season and 8-8 in the Big Ten that advanced to the third round of the WNIT.
This was a good team that Pitt (2-1) beat, and less than a week after McConnell-Serio said she couldn’t be more disappointed following a season-opening loss to Princeton in which they scored just 43 points. They scored that in the first half Thursday.
“Where do I begin? This was a great win for our team,” McConnell-Serio said. “We got off to a great start offensively and defensively. Brianna Kiesel set the tone and made the game easy for everyone else tonight. Being able to knock down shots, find a rhythm and being a playmaker, she was so impressive tonight and her teammates fed off that.”
Kiesel, coming off the only game of her career in which she failed to score a field goal, led the Panthers with 27 points, one shy of tying her career high, and was 6 of 9 from 3-point range.
Freshman forward Stasha Carey once again proved why McConnell-Serio expected her to make an immediate impact.
Coming off a win against Niagara in which Carey had 17 points and 16 rebounds, she finished with 14 points and nine rebounds while guarding Michigan forward Cyesha Goree, who had just eight points and five rebounds.
Both were in double figures in scoring after the first half, with Carey logging 12 points on 5 of 5 shooting from the field and Kiesel scored 11 to pass Taneisha Harrison (1,372, 2007-11) and become Pitt’s ninth all-time leading scorer.
By the end of the game freshman Aysia Bugg (12 points, five assists), who made her first start, and sophomore Fred Potvin (15 points, four assists) had joined them.
Kiesel said this probably was the biggest win of her Panthers career.
“It was a really good win for us,” she said. “We lost to them last year, so this was our revenge. It feels good.”
The Panthers also forced 20 turnovers and set a program record for 3-pointers made in a game with 13, beating the old total of 12 set at Central Michigan on Dec. 31, 2010.
“Our post players can really pass,” said Potvin of the open looks they got all night. “Monica Wignot had eight assists and no turnovers. She can really see us on the court. She drives the defense and then we’re wide open.”
The Panthers opened the game 5 of 7 shooting from the field and 3 of 4 from 3-point range for an early 15-7 lead. Pitt led 43-28 at intermission.
Michigan won last year’s meeting 83-75.
“It’s a Big Ten matchup and they went to the WNIT and won two games,” McConnell-Serio said. “We went up there a year ago and lost to them, and we’re a completely different team.”