Pitt women drop heartbreaker

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This was supposed to be the game for Pitt.

Facing a Big East Conference cellar-dweller in Providence, coming off an impressive performance last week against DePaul and showing signs of improvement, this was to be the game the Panthers ended their 28-game Big East losing streak.

Instead, in heartbreaking fashion, the counter ticked over to 29.

After last-second rallies to force overtime and then double overtime, the Panthers fell to Providence in the second extra session, 85-83, Wednesday night at Petersen Events Center.

Sophomore guard Brianna Kiesel led the Panthers with 26 points and 13 rebounds in 49 minutes. She made a 3-pointer with 10.7 seconds left in overtime to force another five minutes, but couldn't get a runner at the end of the second overtime to tie the score.

"This game's the kind of game that rips your heart out," Pitt coach Agnus Berenato said. "But you know what? We're resilient."

The Panthers only led once in the extra sessions, 82-81, early in the second overtime, but appeared to have momentum with some last-second heroics.

With 17.4 seconds left in regulation, Symone Roberts missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Marquel Davis drove the other way for a tying layup with 9.1 seconds left. The Friars couldn't get a shot off on their ensuing possession, and the game went to overtime tied, 64-64.

Davis, starting in place of the Brittany Gordon, was the Panthers' second-leading scorer with 20 points.

"I thought the job that Marquel did coming in -- I told her, 'You have to be the point' -- I thought was amazing," Berenato said. "That's truly what teams do. I thought she did a great job."

In the first overtime, Providence looked like it had the game wrapped up when it took a 76-70 lead with 41.2 seconds left. But the Panthers clawed back to make it 77-74 after a missed Providence free throw.

Instead of going for a quick 2, Kiesel calmly corralled the ball, stepped up to the 3-point line on the right wing, and made a tying shot to keep the Panthers alive.

"I knew that the ball was going to be in my hands at the end of the game so i just shot the ball confidently and it went in," Kiesel said.

The Panthers have road games at Louisville and Syracuse coming up before returning home Feb. 20 against Cincinnati, also winless in Big East play this season. If the Panthers can't get a win in their next two games, the Big East regular-season losing streak will turn 2 years old Feb. 15. Pitt's previous conference regular-season win came Feb. 15, 2011 against Providence.

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


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