The Patriots held off a late rally from Pitt en route to a 4-0 start.
BY GABRIEL KING, SPORTS EDITOR
Mason women’s basketball upset Pittsburgh 60-52 on Wednesday afternoon at EagleBank Arena. The Patriots withstood a late run from the Panthers to win the game, which was their first victory over an ACC opponent since 2014 against Virginia Tech.
“I really applaud this team’s grit, they continue to find a way to win. [This is] a really big win for this program,” head coach Vanessa Blair-Lewis said. This is Mason’s second victory over a Power Five school since Blair-Lewis’ arrival, as they also beat Florida in 2021.
The Patriots were in control for most of the game, leading it for over 35 minutes, with their largest lead being 19 points early in the third quarter. Pittsburgh stayed in the game until the final minute, but late free throws from Taylor Jameson sealed the victory for Mason.
Mason grew their lead thanks to strong three-point shooting, as they shot 53.8% from deep in the first half. Sonia Smith shot 3-6 on three-pointers, all coming in the second quarter. “[Those shots] were just the reads we were making… Coach always says ‘take what they give you,’” Smith said.
Mason also received contributions from transfer Ta’Viyanna Habib, from Indian River State College, who scored 10 points and got two steals. Habib was motivated by playing against a Power Five school. “We came in as an underdog. So it’s like [we] had something to prove,” she said.
Despite the hot start, the Patriots struggled offensively in the second half and maintained their lead with strong defense. “We just made sure that we locked in on defense. We had to get stops,” said Smith. Mason held Pittsburgh to 36.1% shooting from the field and 17.6% on three-pointers.
Pittsburgh rallied late behind 18 points from Aislin Malcolm. A layup from Malcolm cut the Patriots’ lead to five with a minute remaining, but the Panthers’ poor shooting was too much to overcome. The Patriots responded to each of the Panthers’ runs. “We needed to lock in. They made their run, so it was time to finish with ours,” Habib said.
The Patriots are now 4-0 for the first time since the 2000-01 season, when they started 5-0. They will look to continue their success under Blair-Lewis, as they are one of four remaining unbeatens in the Atlantic 10. Their next game is Saturday at 3 p.m. against Robert Morris at EagleBank Arena. It will be the last home game for the team until conference play begins on December 30.