ALBUQUERQUE – The celebration started in the final seconds, as Pitt fans began a chant never before heard with its women’s basketball program: Sweet 16!
The Panthers stunned 12th-ranked Baylor, 67-59, tonight in the second round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament at the University of New Mexico’s The Pit.
Sixth-seeded Pitt (24-10) now advances for the first time to the NCAA regional round, where it will play the winner of tonight’s game between No. 2 Stanford (31-3) and No. 7 Texas-El Paso (28-3) Saturday in Spokane, Wash.
No. 3 seed Baylor had a 28-26 halftime lead, but Pitt scored the first six points of the second half and never trailed again. The Panthers were led by Shavonte Zellous’ 19 points, Marcedes Walker’s 17 points and nine rebounds and Mallorie Winn’s 12 points. Sophronia Sallard added seven points and a game-high 11 rebounds and Xenia Stewart had eight points and eight rebounds.
The Panthers led by as many as 11, taking a 52-41 lead on Walker’s 3-point play with 10:08 remaining, but Baylor rallied back as Pitt went 8:10 between field goals.
Meantime, Walker fouled out with 5:28 left and the Panthers clinging to a 53-49 lead. The 6-foot-3 senior center made 6 of 12 shots from the field and 5 of 9 free throws, finishing with 17 points and nine rebounds.
Baylor (25-7) cut it to three, 56-53, with 4:59 remaining, but Taneisha Harrison ended the field-goal drought by scoring on an offensive rebound with 1:58 left as the Panthers outscored the Lady Bears, 11-6, in the final two minutes.