Pitt's Berenato shows gratitude in season finale at Petersen

| Saturday, March 2, 2013, 5:27 p.m.

Pitt women's basketball coach Agnus Berenato took a microphone and addressed the announced crowd of 1,215 at Petersen Events Center from center court following the Panthers' 81-73 loss to DePaul on Saturday.

She called down senior members of the band and cheerleaders, and her players passed out roses to each individual. She called down longtime band director Jack Anderson, who will retire this year, and his wife and presented them with gifts. Among those who lingered in the crowd to watch were athletic director Steve Pederson, chancellor Mark Nordenberg and men's basketball coach Jamie Dixon.

Berenato thanks the crowd, band and cheerleaders after every home game, but this was the last one of the season. With the Panthers 0-15 in Big East play and on the verge of a second consecutive season without a conference win, there's a chance it also was Berenato's last home game, period, despite Berenato having three years remaining on her contract.

Pitt (9-19) has lost 35 straight regular-season conference games. The Panthers have one game remaining — at Rutgers on Monday — before moving to the ACC next year.

The Panthers lost to DePaul (20-9, 9-6) by two points on the road at the end of January, and Saturday's rematch was no blowout. But every time they got close to the top of the hill, they slid back down.

“Tough game,” Berenato said. “DePaul's a good team, NCAA-bound team. … Rebounds hurt us. We got outrebounded by eight. I thought we did a good job taking care of the ball and shot a little better today. And I thought Brianna (Kiesel) really attacked today.”

Kiesel had a career-high 28 points, and Asia Logan had 16 points and 12 rebounds. Marquel Davis added 13 points, and the Panthers shot 40.5 percent — the first time in 10 games Pitt eclipsed 40 percent shooting.

But the Panthers spent the entire game trying to catch DePaul.

They would get to within a point or two, or even take the lead momentarily, only to fall behind again by seven or eight, and the pattern would repeat.

With 16:29 remaining, a miscue by DePaul left Logan alone under the basket, and she made it 39-37, but DePaul scored the next six points. Berenato called a timeout, but with 13:16 left, DePaul took its first double-digit lead, 49-39.

Pitt trailed between seven and nine points for the rest of the game.

“With them, it's always going to be a game of runs because they shoot the ball really well from outside,” Kiesel said. “So you'd score two, they hit a 3, and you're still down one. I thought our defense was good, for the most part. We just got caught a couple times.”

Five of DePaul's eight players scored in double-figures, and Katherine Harry had a double-double with 12 points and 18 rebounds.

It was the last game for Pitt redshirt junior Abby Dowd, who will graduate in the spring and has suffered all season from chronic calcification of the ankles. She played 11 minutes.

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at kprice@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.

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