No. 2 Notre Dame routs Pitt women at Petersen
Pitt women's basketball coach Suzie McConnell-Serio may be an optimist, but she's also a realist.
She knew going into Thursday's game against No. 2 Notre Dame that her team would have to play brilliantly to even keep the score close and just hoped the Irish weren't as good in person as they were on film.
After Notre Dame (16-0, 4-0 ACC) rolled to a 109-66 win to continue its undefeated march through the season, McConnell-Serio now knows the Irish aren't as good as advertised.
“They find ways to exploit mismatches, scoring opportunities, they execute and the one thing I was most impressed with was they see the next play,” McConnell-Serio said. “They're just so fundamentally sound. They put on a clinic, no doubt about it.”
The Irish took advantage of the size mismatch and outscored the Panthers (9-9, 1-3) in the paint 46-18. They turned over the ball just nine times and shot 60.6 percent from the field (40 of 66), 75 percent (9 of 12) from 3-point range and 90.9 percent (20 of 22) from the free-throw line.
Former Mt. Lebanon standout Madison Cable, who has played in all 16 games for the Irish this season, scored nine points in 23 minutes, and Erie's Kayla McBride finished with 20 points in her last game in her home state.
Pitt junior point guard Brianna Kiesel finished with 20 points despite Notre Dame's plan to key on her and a knee injury that knocked her out of the game with 12 minutes left. Kiesel, who has scored at least 20 points in her last five games, banged her knee on the floor and is questionable for Sunday's game against Syracuse.
“Kiesel's one of the best point guards in the league,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “She's really a phenomenal player, and maybe if she hadn't gotten hurt they would have done a little more in the second half.”
Notre Dame led 54-25 at the break and opened the second half on a 10-4 run. Kiesel hit a 3-pointer — Pitt's first of the game — and Loliya Briggs added another to slow the momentum, but Notre Dame scored the next nine points and maintained a lead of about 40 points the rest of the game.
Notre Dame played without any of its starters for the final nine minutes.
This was the first meeting between Pitt and Notre Dame in the ACC after 24 meetings as members of the Big East. The Irish are one of only two unbeaten teams left in the country, along with No. 1 Connecticut.
“You look at playing the No. 2 team in the country and where we are as program, and as we proceed (we're) just trying to close the gap,” McConnell-Serio said. “We know we have a lot of work to do, so our goal each year will be to close the gap against a team that is this talented.”