The University of Cincinnati women's basketball team lost a close one to nearby rival Pitt Saturday afternoon, 64-63. Up by one point with two second to go, the Panthers in-bounded the ball from under the UC basket to Panther leading scorer Mallorie Winn hit a 12-footer over senior point guard and staunch defender Micah Harvey as time expired.
Despite getting down by as many as 17 points due in large part to scoring futility and an inability to hit the defensive glass, the Bearcats utilized a 10-minute surge of offensive aggression to close out the second half. Sparked by the dynamic effort of Shelly Bellman, who scored 15 of her 20 points in the second half (including three shots from distance), along with Treasure Humphries' nine points (12 total) and Karen Twehues eight during the half (3-of-3, 2-of-2 from behind the arc), led a ferocious comeback that would have given the 'Cats their first-ever four-game Big East winning streak. Overall, UC hit on 13 of their 27 second half shots, including 6 of 7 from deep.
The Bearcats had their winning efforts undermined by a period and a half worth of sluggish defensive rebounding and a stagnant offensive flow. The Bearcats allowed 10 offensive rebounds in the first half (19 overall) and 22 second chance points for the game. The Bearcats also played into the hands of the Panthers, who led the Big East in offensive rebounding at 17 per game, by playing a grind-it-out defensive style in the first half, that saw the Bearcats struggle to just 36 points over the first 30 or so minutes of action. While Pitt had some to do with the Bearcats woes, UC Head Coach Laurie Pirtle saw her team's struggles as a form of self-imposed doom.
The loss to Pittsburgh (15-6, 6-4) puts an end to UC's three game conference and overall winning streak. Cincinnati (14-6, 4-5) will hit the road for a tough two-game road swing, as they head to two of America's great basketball cities Chicago and Philadelphia. Cincinnati will take on #11 ranked DePaul and then head to Villanova to face the frustrating slow-down pace of Harry Perretta's Wildcat team.