Pittsburgh, Pa. — The 19th-ranked Pittsburgh Panthers shot 58.5 percent in the second half as it pulled away for a 93-50 win over the Western Kentucky University women’s basketball team Tuesday night at the Petersen Events Center.
The loss dropped WKU to 7-5 on the season, while Pitt improved to 10-2.
The Panthers opened the second half on an 18-2 run over the first six minutes of the period to open up a 29-point lead and put the game out of reach. Kenzie Rich — who scored all of her team-high 13 points in the second half — knocked down a three to get the Lady Toppers back within 26. However, the Lady Toppers would get no closer as the Panthers pulled out to a 43-point lead at the final horn.
Pitt took advantage of 13 offensive rebounds in the first half that it was able to turn into 17 second-chance points. In all, the Panthers shot 41.7 percent from the field in the opening period, but were not able to pull away from WKU until late in the half. In fact, the Lady Toppers held a one-point lead on three occasions early on before a Teneisha Harrison three gave Pittsburgh the lead for good as it took a 13-11 lead with 13:46 to go. The Lady Toppers were able to get back within a point on a Hope Brown three, but the Panthers used a 9-0 run to open up a 24-14 lead with 8:45 remaining in the half.
WKU would get no closer than eight the rest of the half, as Pitt was able to open up a 15-point lead before Amy McNear knocked down a jumper as time expired to cut the deficit to 37-24 at intermission.
The Panther bench provided a big spark in the opening half, outscoring the Lady Topper reserves 18-2. In fact, Pitt’s two leading scorers at intermission came off the bench as Sophronia Sallard and Kate Popovec each tossed in eight points. McNear dropped in eight first-half points to pace the Lady Toppers.
For the game, Brown and McNear joined the Rich in double figures with 12 and 11, respectively. Xenia Stewart and Shavonte Zellous led all scorers with 17 points each for Pitt. The Panthers held a 55-33 advantage on the glass, and scored 36 second-chance points off 23 offensive rebounds for the contest.
The Lady Toppers will return home to open 2009 with a 4 p.m. (CST) Sun Belt Conference contest against UALR on Saturday (Jan. 3).