Louisville’s Myisha Hines-Allen (2) goes after a loose ball with Pittsburgh’s Brianna Kiesel (3) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar)PITTSBURGH (AP) – No. 7 Louisville rallied behind its defense and foul shooting to avoid an upset in a 63-57 victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday.The Cardinals held the Panthers scoreless in the final three minutes to close the game on an 8-0 run, all on free throws.Coach Jeff Walz said Louisville was “fortunate” to escape with the win after trailing by two with more than three minutes left.“We finally got down and tried to defend and contest some shots,” Walz said. “We did a better job of not helping off of their shooters, which we had stressed before the game.”In the final minutes, Pitt coach Suzie McConnell-Serio thought the Panthers were just trying to run time off the clock instead of making Louisville defend them.“We went to a single high screen instead of running motion, getting them to defend us and then looking for our opportunities,” McConnell-Serio said.Jude Schimmel scored 11 points and Mariya Moore added 10 for the Cardinals (14-1, 2-0 ACC).Brianna Kiesel had 19 points and nine assists for the Panthers (10-4, 0-1 ACC) and Monica Wignot added 11 points. Down 58-57 with 30 seconds to play, Kiesel cost her team a chance to take the lead when she traveled after Walz sent a double team at her.“I just didn’t feel comfortable letting them run their offense, so we were just trying to do whatever we could to mix things up, and we’re fortunate that it worked out for us,” Walz said.Once Kiesel saw the defender come over from the weak side, she was stuck in the air and had no play to make.“I should’ve called timeout because I didn’t know what I was doing,” Kiesel said. “I didn’t think of what I was going to do and that was my fault.”McConnell-Serio said she wouldn’t want the ball in anyone else’s hands but her senior leader.After the travel, the Panthers were forced to foul, and the Cardinals sealed their victory at the line.Pitt led by as many as 10 points in the first half, making five 3-pointers. Louisville shot just 29.6 percent in the half.The Cardinals took their first lead of the second half when Moore hit a 3-pointer to put them up 50-48 with 8:35 left.Despite the loss, McConnell-Serio was proud her team answered her call to “compete for 40 minutes.”“They did more than compete,” McConnell-Serio said. “They did more than give us a chance. This game was ours for the taking and it’s a learning experience.”TIP-INSLouisville: The Cardinals entered Sunday’s game as the ACC’s second-best offense, scoring 81.7 points per game. The 63 points marked their lowest output of the season.Pittsburgh: The loss ended the Panthers’ longest winning streak at the Petersen Events Center at nine games. Pitt was seeking its first victory over a ranked opponent since 2008. The Panthers have never defeated a team ranked as high as seventh.QUOTE OF THE DAYKiesel, on her traveling violation with 30 seconds to play: “It was just a freshman mistake and I’m a senior point guard. I shouldn’t make that type of mistake. But we’ll see them again and I won’t turn the ball over with 30 seconds left on the clock, that’s for sure.”UP NEXTLouisville plays at Wake Forest next Sunday.Pittsburgh hosts No. 9 North Carolina on Thursday.
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