Pitt's Big East skid for women's team hits 32 games

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As the season wears on, it becomes more and more likely that Pitt will struggle through its second season in a row without a Big East Conference victory.

Wednesday night against Cincinnati might have been the Panthers' best chance, with the Bearcats holding only one conference win entering the game. Once again, though, Pitt came up empty, falling, 59-50, for its 32nd consecutive Big East regular-season defeat.

"I thought we had really great spurts, then we went through a period where we didn't score," Pitt coach Agnus Berenato said. "They're daggers."

The Bearcats pulled away in the second half with a 19-4 run that gave them a 41-28 lead. Pitt had ripped off an 8-0 spurt coming out of the half to close the game to 27-24.

Pitt's offense went stagnant in the second half, though, with the Panthers going 5:26 without a field goal in one stretch.

"We just can't go on those lulls," sophomore guard Brianna Kiesel said. "Maybe one minute, two minutes, but five minutes are entirely too long. That's when you get in a hole."

Only four players scored for the Panthers. Sophomore guard Brianna Kiesel led the way with 24 points and junior guard Marquel Davis added 14.

The Bearcats outscored Pitt, 19-2, in bench scoring and 21-7 in points off of turnovers. Cincinnati also dominated the Panthers down low, with a 34-20 advantage on scoring in the paint.

"We've got to get some more productivity from our bigs, whether it's in the starting lineup or off the bench," Berenato said.

After the game, Berenato said she wasn't concerned about her job security. In her 10 seasons at Pitt, Berenato is the program's all-time wins leader with 161 victories.

She signed a three-year contract extension in 2008, and her current deal runs through the 2015-16 season.

"That's something that's totally out of my hands," she said. "I'm very confident in what I do. I'm confident in the job."

The Big East record for consecutive conference losses is 39, set by Providence from 2003-06.

With only four regular-season games and the Big East tournament remaining, Pitt's chances to earn a Big East win are dwindling. Unless the Panthers pull off an upset along the way, the conference losing streak may be going with them to the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.

NOTE -- Pitt's game Saturday against Georgetown will be the sixth-annual "Pink the Petersen" game. Working with Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation and UPMC Health Plan, Pitt will donate $1 from every ticket sold to help breast cancer awareness. Fans in attendance will receive pink giveaways.

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Sam Werner: swerner@post-gazette.com or on Twitter: @SWernerPG.


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