PITTSBURGH - Ole Miss junior Armintie Price poured in 26 points and the Lady Rebels got 16 points from sophomore Danetra Forrest and 14 points from junior Ashley Awkward, but it was not enough as Pittsburgh won the battle of the boards 41-34 and held on to win the second round Women's NIT match-up 85-76 on Wednesday night.
"You have to give Pitt credit," said Ole Miss head coach Carol Ross. "We did not take away their strengths and that is taking it to the paint and rebounding. There were not any real big surprises in what they did during the game, it is more about what we didn't do. We weren't sharp mentally and they made us pay."
The two teams were nearly identical in most statistical categories with the exception of rebounds. Ole Miss shot 44.1 percent from the field, including making 2-of-7 from beyond the arc, while the Panthers shot 45.5 percent from the field, making 2-of-8 from three-point land. Both teams pulled down 23 rebounds on the defensive glass, but Pitt out did the Lady Rebels by seven on the offensive boards and that was the difference in the game.
In addition, Pitt turned 18 Ole Miss turn overs into 27 points, while Ole Miss only managed 10 points off of 14 Panther miscues.
The first half was a back and forth affair with neither team owning more than a six point lead. Despite getting Pittsburgh center and leading scorer Marcedes Walker to the bench for most of the first period with foul trouble, Ole Miss entered the break trailing by four points at 39-35. Mallorie Win turned in 14 first half points for Pitt, while Cheron Taylor chipped in nine.
Ole Miss came out of the break with some inspired play and immediately tied the game up after forcing two Pittsburgh turnovers and jumpers by Forrest and Price. The Lady Rebels took their largest lead of the game with 14:50 remaining in the game after a Price lay-up forged a 49-46 edge for Ole Miss.
Pittsburgh responded with an 8-0 run over the next two minutes to take a five-point lead. Ole Miss cut the lead to one point on several occasions over the next few minutes, but could never get over the hump. Trailing by two points with just under nine minutes left to play, Ole Miss only managed one basket while giving up 11 points to Pitt over the next three and half minutes. Winn scored eight of the points for the Panthers.
The Lady Rebels never gave up, battling to the final buzzer, but eventually succumbing to the Panthers with the final deficit of nine.
Freshman Shawn Goff turned in seven points and a team-high eight rebounds, while sophomores Jada Mincy and Carla Bartee added six and five points, respectively. Price led Ole Miss with six assists and two steals.
Ole Miss loses three seniors in Ellen Buchanan, Ashley Johnson and LaTanya Jones. Jones scored two points in the loss and Johnson, Ole Miss' second leading scorer at 11.3 per game, was held scoreless in her finale due to foul trouble limiting her to eight minutes.
Winn led all scorers with 27 points, while Walker and Taylor finished with 15 a piece for Pittsburgh. Shavonte Zellous added 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Panthers.
Ole Miss closes the season with a 17-14 overall record, while the Panthers improve to 21-10 on the season. Pitt will host Virginia on Friday at Fitzgerald Fieldhouse in the third round of the WNIT.
Lady Rebs end season with loss at Pitt
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