March 24, 2006
PITTSBURGH, Pa. -
The Virginia Cavaliers ended the 2006 season with a 68-58 loss at Pittsburgh in the quarterfinal round of the 2006 Women's National Invitation Tournament at Fitzgerald Field House on Friday evening.
The Cavaliers finished the season at 20-12 overall, marking their 20th 20-win season under head coach Debbie Ryan.
In the first half, Pitt jumped on the scoreboard first, but UVa went ahead 3-2 on a three-point play by junior Siedah Williams (Cleveland, Ohio). Unfortunately, that would be the `Hoos only lead of the game. Pittsburgh went ahead by as many as 12 points, 15-3. The Panthers held a nine-point edge at halftime, 28-19.
"Rebounding in general was the difference today," Ryan said. "I didn't feel we were in sync tonight at all. It was a struggle from tip to finish."
In the second half, Pitt pushed its lead back up to 14 points, 38-24 with 13:44 left to play. Virginia clawed its way back to come within three points, 57-54 with 2:11 on the clock. The Panthers converted 10 free throws down the stretch for the win.
"We were a little leg-tired," Ryan said after her squad played Wednesday night in Charlottesville and boarded a plane in Richmond on Thursday morning for Pittsburgh. "That's not an excuse. We should have overcome that."
Williams led UVa with 13 points and 11 rebounds for her fourth career double-double. Sophomore point guard Sharnee Zoll (Marlboro, N.J.) followed with 11 points and six assists.
"This experience was good for us," Zoll said. "We went through some hard stretched and some good stretches. We learned a lot."
The game also marked the end of senior Tiffany Sardin's (Chicago, Ill.) collegiate playing career. The forward contributed with points and five boards.
"Tiffany brings a passion to the game," Ryan said. "She's a tremendous leader. She leaves a big hole for us to fill. She's been such a great role model."
Mallorie Winn paced Pitt with 20 points. Marcedes Walker followed with 16 points, while Shavonte Zellous added 11 points.
"(Virginia) really tried to double and triple-team Marcedes, but she never lost her focus," Pitt head coach Agnus Berenato said. "Virginia played a great game and had a great game plan. Debbie's a really smart coach."
Overall, Pittsburgh out-rebounded Virginia, 49-36.
WOMEN'S BASKETBALL WNIT Quarterfinal
1 2 - Final
# Virginia (20-12) 19 39 - 58
Pittsburgh (22-10) 28 40 - 68