For the first time in awhile, Pitt entered a conference game against South Florida Sunday with some positive momentum on its side.
At the end of the day, though, any mojo garnered in Pitt's heartbreaking 57-55 loss Tuesday at DePaul fizzled, and the Panthers dropped their 28th consecutive Big East regular-season game, 78-60, to the Bulls.
The matchup with DePaul ended with the Panthers (9-12, 0-8) on the losing side, like so many Big East games before it. But the fact that the Blue Demons, perennial NCAA tournament contenders, needed a last-second shot to beat the Panthers had to be a positive sign the losing streak would end soon.
"We played really well against DePaul," sophomore guard Brianna Kiesel said. "Taking that into this game, we were fired up and had a lot of energy."
Sunday, though, would not be the end of the streak. After a back-and-forth first half, South Florida (15-6, 4-4) pulled away late to take a 10-point halftime lead.
The Bulls extended their lead with a 10-0 run early in the second half for a 53-38 advantage.
As they have almost every game this year, though, the Panthers fought back with a 9-0 spurt of their own before ultimately running out of gas.
During that run, Kiesel took over for Pitt, scoring nine of 11 points for the Panthers over one stretch.
"I like Bri taking over," Pitt coach Agnus Berenato said. "I like Bri being aggressive going to the hole and I like Bri pulling up and taking a jump shot."
Asia Logan led the Panthers with 19 points and Kiesel finished with 16. Pitt lost several opportunities to keep the game close due to a dismal free-throw shooting performance, finishing 8 of 20 from the line.
"We make our free throws, we're not trailing the whole game," Berenato said. "We make our free throws, we're in the driver's seat. A free throw is a free throw."
The Panthers return to action Saturday against Providence at Petersen Events Center. The Friars (6-15, 1-7) might provide one of Pitt's best opportunities to finally break the Big East losing streak.
Sam Werner: email@example.com or on Twitter @SWernerPG