Pitt women knock off Duquesne in City Game, 67-57
The Pitt women snapped a four-game losing streak against Duquesne in the annual City Game, 67-57, and gave Suzie McConnell-Serio a victory in her first game coaching against her former team on Sunday in front of 2,681 at the Petersen Events Center.
Pitt junior point guard Brianna Kiesel led all players with a season-high 27 points and added 10 rebounds and five assists. Marquel Davis had 16 points for the Panthers (8-6), all in the second half.
“I think it was special to show how good of a coach (McConnell-Serio) is,” Davis said. “It definitely meant a lot to us to just work hard for her. She was going against a team that she built up to be as good as they are and she came to our program and has built us up a lot, too. It was special because we wanted to win it for her, having come from Duquesne to be with Pitt.”
Sophomore point guard April Robinson led Duquesne (8-5) with 16 points, followed by Wumi Agunbiade with 14 and Olivia Bresnahan with 11.
Duquesne led for most of the first half, but Pitt took a 26-20 lead into halftime.
With 10 minutes left to play, the Panthers led by 11 points, but Duquesne pulled within 44-41 five minutes later. Davis turned the ball over, but then got the rebound after Bresnahan missed a 3-point attempt for Duquesne and took it down for a layup to make it 46-41.
The Panthers were again ahead by 11 before Orsi Szecsi hit a 3-pointer for the Dukes and trimmed Pitt's lead to 52-44 with three and a half minutes left. Davis made a free throw, and Brittany Gordon scored to make it 55-44 for Pitt. The Dukes couldn't make up enough ground in the final minutes.
“Obviously, I'm very disappointed in our efforts and how we played the last 30 minutes of the game,” said Duquesne coach Dan Burt, who was McConnell-Serio's top assistant during her six seasons with the program before leaving for Pitt in April. “I felt we were completely outplayed and we can say that we were outcoached at times. I'm very disappointed with the whole day.”
Both teams struggled to score in the first 10 minutes. Pitt made just one of its first 10 field goals attempted, and the Dukes shot just 4 of 14 (28.6 percent) to start the game.
With seven and a half minutes remaining in the half, Kiesel had eight of Pitt's 10 points, and Duquesne was still in the lead. A 3-point shot by Pitt's Ashlee Anderson, the first of the game for either team, cut the Dukes' lead to 14-13.
Kiesel tied it 15-15 with just under five minutes remaining. A steal and another layup by Kiesel gave Pitt its first lead a minute later.
“She's unbelievable,” McConnell-Serio said of Kiesel. “She managed the game so well. Once she started hitting shots, I think everybody's shoulders were able to relax a little bit and say OK, we're going to be fine. They play off her, read her throughout the game and she makes the game easier for a lot of people.”
As Kiesel breathed life into the Panthers, Duquesne went into a slump and didn't hit a shot from the field for eight minutes.
Burt said the Dukes were expecting an emotional game, and that his players' nerves “absolutely” contributed to the outcome.
“I think actually we handled it better early,” he said. “The first 10 minutes we were jacked up and ready to play, like any City Game. There was an added significance and we all know that.”