Panthers rally past #1 La Roche 78-74

Brittany Watts
Freshman Brittany Watts

The Pitt-Bradford women’s basketball team used a strong first half followed by a rally in the second half to defeat the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference’s top-rated team in the La Roche Redhawks, 78-74, on Saturday, Jan. 11.

Freshman and newcomer Brittany Watts exploded in the paint for the Panthers racking up the team’s first double-double this season. Watts finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds and one assist.

The Panthers had four different players score in double figures. The next was junior Alicia Kimmel. Kimmel had a team-high 19 points and four rebounds.  Sophomore Abby Brate registered 14 points, three rebounds and six assists, and freshman Kaserra Owens had 11 points and six rebounds.

Pitt-Bradford (8-4, 4-1) seemed to meet its match from the opening tip. Each team took turns capitalizing on offensive opportunities to begin the contest.

With nearly six minutes gone off the clock, the two squads were knotted at 10 points each. Spectators could tell this game would have the makings of an old-school boxing match, with each team taking turns trading blows to decide an eventual winner.

The Panthers caught fire with just under eight minutes to go until the break, and the Redhawks had no answer for Pitt-Bradford’s attack.

Little by little the lead grew for the Panthers, who led by as much as 13 points at one point. The Redhawks struggled to maintain possession of the ball as they failed to grab rebounds and coughed up several opportunities in a row.

As the half continued and the clock started to wind down, La Roche found a way to bring itself within four points with just 30 seconds to go in the half. The two teams headed into halftime with the Panthers clinging to a 34-30 advantage.

Pitt-Bradford shot 36.4 percent from the field in the first half and did not attempt a triple. The Panthers were 10-of-18 from the line.

La Roche finished the first twenty minutes shooting just 26.5 percent from the field and connected on just 1-of-9 from behind the arc. The Redhawks were a stout 12-of-15 from the charity stripe.

La Roche (9-3, 4-1) seemed to find its rhythm offensively in the second half of play. Despite, a quick run by the Panthers to begin play, the Redhawks settled in about the fifteen-minute mark and attempted to put their foot on the gas.

After a big three-point shot from La Roche’s Casie Cygan, the Redhawks led 46-42 with 13 minutes left in the action.

The knockdown, drag out fashion the first half showed only intensified during the final 12 minutes of this game. Each team now took turns taking the lead and tempers became short with every turnover proving costly to both squads.

It wasn’t until the clock showed 2:21 remaining when the Panthers finally stole the lead for good. A layup from Owens put Pitt-Bradford out front and kept the momentum on the side of the home team.

Several missed shots and a couple of turnovers later and this game moved to its final moments with the Panthers holding on to an eight point lead with 13 seconds left. La Roche’s Shataya White hit a meaningless three-point shot at the buzzer to equal the final score.

“This is a great win for us on our home court,” said head coach Patrick Daniel. “I am very proud of my team for the effort, the energy and the intensity they played with for 40 minutes. We did the little things today that got us this big win.”

For the game, the Panthers shot 47.2 percent from the field and did not attempt a single three-point shot. They were 28-of-48 from the line.

La Roche finished the game shooting 38.5 percent from the floor and 21.1 percent from behind the arc. The Redhawks were 21-of-29 from the line.

Pitt-Bradford returns to the court on Sunday, Jan. 12 to take on Franciscan in a quick turnaround. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m.