PITTSBURGH (AP) — Two seasons ago, Notre Dame routed Pittsburgh by 76 points at home when the teams were in the Big East.
They’re both now in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and though the margin wasn’t as vicious the second-ranked Irish still won with ease.
“Our goal each year will be to close the gap against a team that is this talented,” Panthers coach Suzie McConnell-Serio said her team’s 109-66 loss Thursday night. “Because we’re not there yet, and we’re not even close.”
Brianna Kiesel scored 20 points on 5-of-12 shooting to lead the Panthers (9-9, 1-3). The junior guard made all eight of her free-throw attempts and converted was 2 for 3 on 3-pointers.
Marquel Davis added 10 points for Pitt.
“Hopefully our players will learn from this and know that that’s when we put the time in the offseason so that we can compete with these teams,” McConnell-Serio said.
McConnell-Serio, who was coaching at Duquesne when the Irish beat the Panthers 120-44 in the teams’ last meeting, described Notre Dame’s performance as a “clinic” as it shot over 60 percent from the field (40 of 66) and held Pitt to 37.1 percent.
Pitt couldn’t stop Notre Dame’s offense, no matter what McConnell-Serio tried in terms of man-to-man or zone defenses.
“You hope a team is not as good as they are on film,” McConnell-Serio said. “This team was better against us tonight than I watched on film.”
Kayla McBride and Jewell Loyd scored 20 points apiece to lead Notre Dame (16-0, 4-0). Natalie Achonwa had 14 points, reserve Michaela Mabrey scored 13 and Taya Reimer had 10.
The Irish grabbed control with a tiebreaking 12-0 run early in the first half and led 54-25 at the break. The advantage ballooned to as many as 45 points in the second half.
We were just sharing the ball, just making the extra pass,” McBride said. “There’s a good shot, but we can probably find a better one and we were hitting tonight.”
The Irish had 25 assists on their 40 field goals. They finished with nine turnovers.
Kiesel, who had played over 100 consecutive minutes, rested for the final 10-plus minutes.
The Irish were dominant inside, outscoring Pitt 46-18 in the paint and outrebounding the Panthers 35-31.
After her team dominated the Panthers, Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw offered that she sees Pitt to be in “great shape” two years after one of the worst losses in program history.
“I think now they have some upperclassmen finally — I think for a few years they really didn’t have any upperclassmen,’ McGraw said. “I think Suzie’s going to do a great job for them.”