For 36 minutes, Pitt’s game Thursday night against Boston College looked much like so many games the Panthers have played against league opponents the past three seasons.
Pitt struggled early and fought back late, but just couldn’t quite get over the hump.
But then, something clicked.
Instead of wilting down the stretch, the Panthers (10-11, 2-5 ACC) ripped off a 10-1 run over the final 3:23 to steal a 67-65 win against the Eagles (11-11, 2-6).
“Our players just continue to believe in each other,” Pitt coach Suzie-McConnell-Serio said. “They continue to fight, they continue to believe in each other, they continue to work hard and finally it has paid off.”
After the Panthers clawed back to tie the score, 65-65, point guard Brianna Kiesel drove from the top of the key and hit a winning layup with 3.1 seconds left to set up a celebration at the Petersen Events Center.
Kiesel had made another driving layup less than a minute earlier to tie the score. On the ensuing Boston College possession, Pitt guard Loliya Briggs drew a charge to set up Kiesel’s winner. Kiesel finished with 16 points and six assists after scoring just two in the first half.
Panthers forward Asia Logan played what McConnell-Serio said was “her best basketball game,” and finished with a game-high 24 points.
“It was just falling today,” Logan said. “My teammates found me open, and they were just falling.”
Perhaps most important, Logan made 9 of 11 free throws. As a team, Pitt made 11 of 12 free throws in the second half as they fought back from a 10-point halftime deficit.
The Panthers also increased their field-goal shooting from 36.7 percent in the first half to 48 percent in the second and shot 56.3 percent from 3-point range, by far their best showing from beyond the arc this season.
“Everyone has been hitting shots all week,” Kiesel said. “It shows across stat lines that we’ve been putting in work. Once we hit that first shot, second shot, it’s contagious, then everyone’s hitting shots.”
The shot-making started spreading in the second half, after Pitt took the court down, 37-27. They started slowly chipping away at the lead but couldn’t quite get the big stop or shot to tie it up or take the lead. Until those final four minutes.
“Our players just continued to dig deep, they continued to fight,” McConnell-Serio said. “With every stop and every score, you could see the confidence and the energy on the offensive end that we need to play with for 40 minutes instead of in the last five minutes of the game.”
Sam Werner: email@example.com and Twitter @SWernerPG. First Published January 30, 2014 8:58 PM