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March 21, 2009 at 4:50 PM

No. 4 Pittsburgh versus No. 13 Montana game thread

PITT WINS: It took a half for Pitt to get going, but once the bite was tamed from the Griz, Zellous was able to put on a show and carry her team to the second-round on Monday with a 64-35 win. Montana loses in the opening round for the second consecutive year. Zellous finished with 31 points on 13 for 27 shooting from the field. She also had nine rebounds and two assists. Morales, also a senior guard, led the Griz with 11 points and eight assists.
GETTING HAIRY: The Griz average 70-plus points, that’s why their inability to shoot even from the outside is stunning. Linford made their first FG since the opening minutes of the second half on a turnaround and Montana now trails 58-33. Zellous was just taken out during a timeout. She’s sitting on the bench in a shooting shirt, so perhaps Berenato feels comfortable that this is a win. There’s three-minutes left in the game.
FREE THROWS COUNT: Well, the Griz can’t get a FG to drop, but they made it to the free throw line. Lohman was 1 for 2 from the line. On the rebound for the miss, Montana couldn’t get a shot off and turned it over, which led to another Pitt score. Berenato is on the clock for when she’ll take Zellous out of the game and call it.
SIZE MATTERS: Berenato went to a smaller lineup, but even those players are bigger than the Griz. Montana looks like they’re running into a wall every time they take the ball inside. And flinging threes isn’t helping (21.4 percent). Pitt’s run from halftime has increased to 17-2 as the Griz struggle to shoot. Score is 43-27 Pitt with 11:41 left.
OVER-ZELLOUS: The Griz’s bubble busted. Pitt opened the second half on a 13-2 run to build a 39-27 lead with 15:52 remaining in the first-round game. Montana coach Robin Selvig called a timeout to get his team back on track, but Zellous’ last splashy play was a steal for a layin. She’s also getting some offensive help from teammates and the Panthers are playing lively defense. I doubt the Griz get back in this one.
HALFTIME: Zellous had 15 points at the half, helping her team shoot 42.3 percent from the field. The Griz had a lot of energy to start, but have slowed down. If they can scrappy, again, they may fight their way back into the game. Only noticeable difference in the stats is that Pitt has missed four of its five three-point attempts while Montana is trying to use the three to stay in the game, shooting 3 of 10 from that range. The Griz trail 26-25.
PITT AHEAD: Zellous received some offensive help from Scott, who made three-pointer to pull her team ahead at 26-25 with 28.2 seconds remaining in the half. There’s a problem with a call made by the officials whether it was a two or three, however, so it’s being reviewed. UPDATE: It’s ruled a three.
TOO ZELLOUS?: Right now Zellous is the Pitt offense. She has 10 of their 16 points, shooting 4 of 8 from the field. Her shot hardly nicks the net when it slips through, but the Panthers need more than her to pull ahead in the game. Pitt is down 20-16 with 5:41 remaining in the open half.
CALLING AN AUDIBLE: Washington fans get after coach Tia Jackson for the way she harps at the team during games, well you wouldn’t want Berenato. Her team is down 16-12 and she’s waving her arms like she’s landing a 747, trying to communicate with her team. In the huddle, she’s in their face. It’s par for the course in the Big East (see undefeated Connecticut).
DOUBLE TROUBLE: The game has yet to settle, but the Griz are showing early that they can play. Their shots are pretty, the hustle on defense and their crowd is entertaining. Too bad officials moved the painted students to the upper deck, though. There’s 11:54 remaining in the opening half and the Griz lead 12-6 behind two treys from Rogers.
PEPPER SPRAY: Well, maybe Montana will be able to play. Lohman (6 feet 1) blocked the 6-6 Pepper and the Griz converted it into a three-pointer. The underdog leads 5-4 with 14:38 remaining.
FIRST BUCKET: Zellous broke the ice with a pretty jumper, but Beck responded, which erupted Hec Ed. Wilson just made a bucket down low to put the Panthers ahead 4-2 with 16:46 remaining in the opening half.
BAND ARRIVES: The Wolves marching band received a standing ovation when they walked through the tunnel to take their seats by the Pitt bench. They’re a little late — eight minutes before tip-off — but wearing the Panthers’ colors. They even know the team’s fight song and sound good, but a little quiet. Perhaps they’ll get more confidence with it as the game rolls on.
OK, a cluster of body-painted students from Montana are seated directly behind the courtside press row, so this is going to be entertaining. They were tailgating earlier and some fans met at a local campus bar to get hyped, things are going to be off the hook.
Pitt doesn’t mind. As coach Agnus Berenato said on Friday, they play “in the best conference in the NCAA,” with Connecticut, Rutgers, and Lousiville headlining the Big East – what’s a few fans in maroon and gray?
The Panthers just left the court, doing a little pregame shooting. They have a cluster of fans behind their bench. They also have their cheer squad, mascot, and rented the services of South Kitsap High band to bring the noise. But the band must have missed the ferry because they aren’t here now.
Everyone is reportedly healthy and ready to open this sub-regional. Here are your starting lineups:
F Sophronia Sallard
F Shayla Scott
C Pepper Wilson
G Shavonte Zellous
G Xenia Stewart
F Sarah Ena
F Lauren Beck
C Britney Lohman
G Mandy Morales
G Sonya Rogers
Tonight’s officials are Gator Parrish, Shelley Nakasone, and Darren Krzesnik.



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