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Pitt women notch big upset over rival West Virginia

| Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — With every West Virginia basket made, the crowd of 8,025 at the Coliseum got louder.

The home team had trailed virtually the entire game against Pitt on Saturday. But with eight minutes to play, that started to change.

A 10-point Panthers lead turned to six, then four. With 4 1/2 minutes remaining the game was tied, and a minute later No. 14 West Virginia had its first lead since its first basket.

But Pitt's Taneisha Harrison, who'd been scoring on the Mountaineers all night, wasn't done inflicting damage, and the final two jabs were the worst. With the Panthers trailing by four, she drained her fourth 3-pointer of the game. West Virginia turned the ball over on its next possession and with an assist from Harrison, Chelsea Cole hit a layup to regain the lead.

West Virginia turned the ball over again and, with 54 seconds left, Harrison nailed her fifth and final 3-pointer to lift the Panthers to a 60-53 victory.

"Coach (Agnus Berenato) always tells us he who hesitates is lost, so I try not to hesitate when I get the ball because I know I'm a scorer and a threat and I need to help my team to win," Harrison said.

It was Pitt's first win against a ranked opponent for Pitt (11-11, 3-6) since Feb. 3, 2009, an 82-70 victory over No. 19 Notre Dame at Petersen Events Center.

After opening the season 16-0 and rising as high as No. 6 in the rankings, West Virginia (20-4, 6-4) has lost three of its past four and hosts No. 2 Connecticut on Tuesday.

It was also West Virginia's first home loss in nearly two years and ended a streak of 31 consecutive Coliseum wins. The streak tied Tennessee for the fourth-longest active streak in the country.

The crowd, on hand for the annual game to benefit breast cancer awareness, was the third-largest for a women's game in program history.

"We had a great crowd and a great atmosphere," coach Mike Carey said. "It's just a shame that as bad as we played, we had a four-point lead with two minutes to go. It's just a shame; I'm sick over it."

West Virginia's last home loss before the streak began was also to Pitt, 72-60, on Feb. 24, 2009.

Harrison scored a career-high 30 in yesterday's installment — 50 percent of Pitt's total — and Chelsea Cole had 15. Harrison, Cole and Shayla Scott each had seven rebounds.

Pitt shot 56.3 percent from the field in the second half and 47.5 percent for the game, while holding West Virginia to 27.6 percent in the second half and 30.8 overall. Pitt is only the fourth team to score 60 or more points against West Virginia's typically stingy defense this season, joining Syracuse, Georgetown and DePaul.

"We don't have a big margin for error and we couldn't score. We just couldn't score," Carey said. "I thought we played better in the second half, but they shot 47 percent for the game. We took more shots, but we don't finish."

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