No. 11 Wyoming Falls to No. 6 Pitt in Defensive Battle in NCAA First Round

March 22, 2008

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    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Pitt survived in The Pit.

    Shavonte Zellous scored 21 points, Sophronia Sallard had 15 and Mallorie Winn hit a huge 3-pointer with 2:27 remaining to help Pittsburgh beat Wyoming 63-58 on Saturday in the NCAA's first round.

    The No. 6 seeded Panthers (23-10) held on despite a sluggish performance by standout center Marcedes Walker, advancing to meet No. 3 Baylor in the second round.

    Justyna Podziemska led the No. 11 seeded Cowgirls (24-7) with 23 points on 8-of-17 shooting while Jodi Bolerjack and Hanna Zavecz each scored 10.

    But Wyoming, making its first NCAA tournament appearance, couldn't take over a back-and-forth contest that featured 12 ties and 10 lead changes.

    Podziemska put the Cowgirls ahead 54-53 on a 3-pointer with 4:03 remaining. Yet no lead held much value in this nail-biter until Winn came through for Pitt at the other end, putting the Panthers ahead for good.

    Winn let it fly, despite an 0-for-5 effort up to that point that included four misses from 3-point range.

    From there, Pitt tightened the defense and held the Cowgirls without a field goal for 3 1/2 minutes down the stretch. Walker, Winn and Zellous made 5-of-6 down the stretch from the free throw line to put it away.

    The Cowgirls got a final chance after Zellous, missed her only free throw in eight attempts with 25.7 seconds to go and Pitt leading 61-56. But Wyoming's Dominique Sisk was called for an offensive foul at the other end.

    The Cowgirls had plenty of support - several thousand fans who made the 8-hour drive from Laramie, Wyo. Until Sisk's foul call, they raised the noise level nearly every time Wyoming made a run or a defensive stop.

    Meanwhile, Pitt struggled without Walker on the floor. She sat 12 minutes in the first half with foul trouble, then provided a spark by scoring seven of Pitt's first nine second-half points as the Panthers built a 39-36 lead.

    After that, neither team led by more than four points until Pitt pulled away in the closing minutes.