Rally Falls Short

West Virginia showed the heart and desire to win the Backyard Brawl against the Pitt Panthers, but the weight of Mountaineer mistakes outweighed those qualities in a frustrating 62-58 loss at home on Saturday.

Sixteen Mountaineer turnovers helped Pitt pull out to an early lead and proved to much to overcome down the stretch.

Pitt's Mallorie Winn led all scorers as she put in 18 points, with 11 of those coming in the first half. Marcedes Walker added 17 points for the Panthers, and Shavonte Zellous rounded out the double figure scorers for the Panthers as she dropped in 11 points.

For WVU, Olayinka Sanni led the scoring with 17. Chakhia Cole was the only other player in double figures for the Mountaineers as she added 13 points.

The Mountaineers finally showed the heart that Coach Carey had been asking for from his players as the Mountaineers fought back twice from double-digit deficits, but unforced turnovers and really cost the Mountaineers and eventually stopped their comeback effort. WVU also committed several untimely fouls in Pitt's backcourt, and had a handful more on passes a long distance from the basket.

That said, the Mountaineers effort to come back was enormous. Sanni and Cole both came up big in the second half, hitting shots and grabbing rebounds to give WVU as additional chances. Another big contributor was Britney Davis-White who had all of her seven points in the second half, and hit a big three-pointer to get the Pitt lead back to single digits at 47-38.

WVU and Pitt both started out fast trading baskets for the first five minutes of the game. LaQuita Owens then grabbed the Mountaineers their only lead of the game when she hit a three pointer to put them out in front at 9-6.

Winn began to take over for Pitt as she hit two layups and a three to take Pitt on a 7-0 run of her own, which extended the Panthers' lead to 15-9.

WVU had the answer, going on a 6-0 run of their own, capped off by a basket by Yelena Leuchanka to tie the game back up at 15. From there, Pitt kept a small lead until the end of the first half, when a 7-0 run and kicked the lead out to eight at 32-24.

In the second half Pitt looked like it was going to blow WVU out as they went on 13-4 run out of the gates to get the lead up to sixteen points at 45-29. WVU would not back down, however, as they went on their first run of the half and got the lead down to five points with a bank shot by Leuchanka at 47-42.

For the second time in the half Pitt extended the lead back out to double figures with a basket by Xenia Stewart to get the score back to 56-46, as the yo-yo game continued in earnest.

Again WVU had the answer as they went on a 10-0 run. Sanni and Cole dropped in eight of those ten points to tie the game up at 56-all, but the Mountaineers could never make it over the hump and grab the lead. The Mountaineers had a chance to stop Pitt and get the ball back with a chance to tie the game in the closing minute, but another silly foul resulted in two Pitt free throws and a four-point lead that was safe for the final twenty seconds.

With the loss WVU falls to 12-12 on the season and 4-9 in the Big East. WVU will jump back into action at the Coliseum on Wednesday when they battle the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Tip time is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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