The Pitt men’s basketball team had an exhibition this weekend that was highly covered in part because of all of the new players on the team. The women’s team, though, had one on Sunday that didn’t get a lot of coverage, despite a really disappointing result.
The women’s basketball team lost an exhibition to local D-II team IUP, 73-68.
Pitt generally has had little trouble with these sorts of games, even in years when the team hasn’t been very good. Last year, for example, the Panthers beat IUP by 32 points and then proceeded to win only 13 games. Flat out losing a game like this is kind of alarming, especially in that context.
The Panthers actually shot much better than IUP (nearly 47% to IUP’s 39%), which makes the loss harder to believe. But Pitt also had 20 turnovers and IUP lived at the foul line, getting 25 attempts to only six for Pitt.
The team is obviously without Brenna Wise, who transferred to Indiana after she had arguably been the program’s best player the last two years. Replacing her in that role is Yacine Diop, who missed last year due to injury. She led the team in scoring and rebounding against IUP (15 points and ten rebounds) and was the second-leading scorer behind only Wise two years ago as a sophomore. The team with both Wise and Diop would be much more formidable but the loss of Wise left a big hole.
This is obviously only one exhibition game and the jury is still out on this team. But losing to a D-II program isn’t a great start for a program coming off of back-to-back 13-win seasons.
Just two years ago, the future seemed bright for the program. They had just come off a 20-win season and reached the NCAA Tournament, even winning a virtual road game against a top 20 ranked Chattanooga squad before bowing out to a top ten Tennessee team. But the team lost WNBA draft pick Brianna Kiesel after that season and then had to deal with the loss of Diop last year. Now, it’s the loss of Wise and the program seems headed for another down season.