The 10th seeded Pitt Panthers upset 7th seeded Chattanooga this afternoon in Knoxville, Tennessee to advance to the second round of the Women's NCAA Tournament. Suzie McConnell-Serio's team reached the 20-win mark for the season with today's win, their first since 2009. The Panthers used some stifflng defense and a big-time performance from Stasha Carey. The freshman from Cleveland paced the Panthers with 16 points and 13 rebounds. The win presumably will put the Panthers against the host team - the Tennessee Lady Volunteers.
Pitt overcame a sluggish first half plagued with foul trouble and managed to hold a 25-21 lead. Star senior Brianna Kiesel had a relatively quiet day by her standards finishing with 13 points and four assists. Kiesel was one of many Panthers called for an inordinate amount of offensive fouls in the first half. She settled down in the second half and came up with some big plays to lead the Panthers to the victory.
Another story has to be Pitt's defense, which limited Chattanooga to 26.2% shooting from the field, including just 4-23 from behind the three-point arc. Chattanooga had a 29-3 overall record coming into today as the champions of the Southern Conference. The Lady Mocs held a decided edge in home court advantage as well, as their campus is under two hours away from Knoxville. Chattanooga went ice cold and after the game being tied at 33 all, Pitt closed the game on an 18-7 run to finish out the upset.
Pitt will presumably play Tennessee on Monday night on their home court, unless Boise State can come up with an epic upset. No need to mention the history of the Tennessee women's basketball program, and Pitt will certainly be up against it. But no matter the outcome, this has been an excellent season to date for the Pitt women's program, and perhaps they can keep it going.