WVU women’s basketball forces 28 turnovers in aggressive 72-61 win over Pitt

PITTSBURGH — As the turnovers began to pile up Saturday like cars in a freeway wreck, this is maybe what Mark Kellogg had envisioned for his WVU women’s basketball team.
“It’s kind of that punch-first mentality,” Kellogg said after WVU walked into the Petersen Events Center and came away with a 71-62 victory against rival Pitt. “Imposing our will is a statement we use quite a bit. I thought we came out and played really well early.”
WVU’s full-court pressure was the story, forcing 28 turnovers, 18 coming from steals.
The Mountaineers (2-0) created enough havoc and confusion with the press that Pitt’s guards eventually tried to dibble through defenders to get through it.
Well, that didn’t exactly work, either.
“It’s going to be really hard to win when you turn the ball over 28 times,” Pitt coach Tony Verdi said. “Their guards did a great job of pressuring us and turning us over. I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of 28 turnovers.”
It was the sixth consecutive win by the Mountaineers over the Panthers, although this was the first meeting between the two schools since 2018.
Lauren Fields and Kyah Watson provided the offense for WVU.
Fields hit five 3-pointers and finished with 23 points, while Watson scored a career-high 19 to go along with 12 rebounds.
“There’s times she takes a back seat and I challenged her last week to be more assertive offensively,” Kellogg said of Watson. “Her nature is to take a step back and let the other ones (score) and then do all the little stuff. We needed her tonight. I thought she was really good. I couldn’t take her out of the game.”
The Panthers (1-1) did get back into the game. Using their size and rebounding advantage, Aislin Malcolm’s drive to the bucket gave Pitt a 40-39 lead with 6:48 left in the third quarter.
Pitt forwards Liatu King and Rapuluchi Ayodele combined for 46 points and 28 rebounds and the Panthers finished with a 46-29 rebounding advantage.
“Those two post players just crushed us on the boards,” Kellogg said. “We prepared for that coming in, but we did not do a great job, obviously, on the boards.”
It was not a game to remember for Pitt sophomore guard and Fairmont native Marley Washenitz.
The former WVU recruit and Fairmont Senior standout didn’t score until there was 7:26 left in the game, while committing 12 turnovers in 33 minutes of action.
It was the most turnovers committed by a single player against WVU since 1992, and she fouled out in the final seconds of the game.
“I don’t care who we’re playing or where we’re playing, you play a certain way,” Verdi said. “Just because you’re playing a school near your hometown doesn’t mean all of a sudden you change who you are as a player.
“When we as a team find our consistency, that’s when we’ll continue to get better.”
WVU’s J.J. Quinerly finally got going in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 of her 18 points over the final 10 minutes.
Jordan Harrison added 10 assists and led the Mountaineers with seven steals. It was the first time since K.K. Deans in 2021 that a WVU player had at least 10 assists in a game.
“She didn’t really shoot it that great, and a few times she didn’t even look to shoot it,” Kellogg said of Harrison. “The 10 assists is phenomenal against just three turnovers. She also had seven steals and six rebounds.”