Even a monster effort from senior Brianna Kiesel couldn't stop the Pitt women's basketball team from falling to Tennessee in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Panthers got a career-high 32 points from Kiesel, but still fell short against the Volunteers, 77-67.
Pitt was a clear underdog here, facing No. 2 seed Tennessee - in Tennessee no less. The team fell behind early and trailed by 12 at the half. But after getting behind by 14 with about five minutes left, a gutsy performance and a 10-2 run in the second half brought them back to within six. They couldn't get any closer, but to get back into the game at that point was admirable.
Kiesel and freshman Yacine Diop got no help down the stretch as they literally scored the team's final 25 points. Granted, the other players only combined for three shots the rest of the way. But that just shows how much Kiesel and Diop carried the team down the stretch.
As for Kiesel, she finishes her career just shy of 2,000 points (1,938) and ranks fifth on the team's all-time scoring list. Just a remarkable career. She was the best player on the floor and afterwards, Tennessee coach Holly Warwick even wanted to take her along for her team's NCAA tournament run.
"I asked (Kiesel) going down the hall if she wanted to go to Spokane with us," Warlick said. "I'm sure we'd find some kind of uniform for her."
For the team, it was a tremendous year. I've made this point before, but Pitt was really scratching and clawing just to have enough players to start the season. Not only did they get a team together, but it was one of the best teams they've had in recent memory since they had a couple of Sweet 16 runs back under Agnus Berenato. The program is clearly going in the right direction and Suzie McConnell-Serio did an unreal job in getting the girls ready to play this year.
My favorite part after the game? This from the presser:
Tough loss, but good stuff there.